Although scientists haven’t fully cracked the benefits of sleep, it’s definitely something that everyone needs to stay alive. It’s so essential, in fact, that experts recommend that you get seven to nine hours of it every night. The effects of sleep deprivation can negatively affect your daily life.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, if you don’t get enough hours of sleep or even sleep at the wrong time, you may end up feelingtired once you wake up.
The Consequences of Sleep Issues
Apart from fatigue, sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of health issues, like kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and even mental illness.
- Depression – Poor sleep quality or just general lack of sleep are common symptoms of depression. Sleep deprivation also aggravates the effects of this mental illness, making them feel more intense than usual.
- Cognitive Consequences – Sleep deficiency can also impair your ability to think and solve problems. It negatively affects your concentration, reasoning, attention, alertness, and more. It makes you learn slower than usual and interferes with your ability to remember things, too. This is because sleep plays an important role in blending and understanding your memories when you were awake. As such, if you don’t get enough rest, you’ll have trouble remembering what you just learned.
- Increased Risk of Accidents – It’s no surprise that sleep-deprived drivers are more likely to experience car crashes than those who had a good night’s rest. Being awake and being alert are two very different things. Even if your eyes are on the road, you’re prone to making mistakes like failing to notice signs and misjudging timings in lane changes.
Repair Your Sleep Schedule
One of the significant reasons people lack sleep is because they have a messed up sleep schedule, or in scientific terms, your sleep-wake circadian rhythm. It’s a nightmare not being able to fall asleep until 2:00 AM when you need to wake up at 6 AM.
According to the Sleep Foundation, a sleep schedule can get thrown-off by a variety of reasons like jet lag, caffeine, and stress. Consistently staying up all night and having fluctuating sleep hours can throw off your circadian rhythm as well.
Getting enough sleep ensures you perform your best at work, in school, and in life in general. So, how can you fix a broken sleep schedule?
Moderate Your Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption
Coffee and energy drinks can be helpful to stay alert during the day. However, it may end up lingering in your body and keep you frustratingly awake when it’s your bedtime. Alcohol can leave you sleepy, but it can lower your sleep quality, as it reduces rapid eye movement (REM). REM is essential in helping your brain learn and retain memories. If you need to wake up early the next day, taper off your alcohol and caffeine consumption towards the late afternoon.
Keep Naps to a Minimum
Naps are also great at restoring your energy during the afternoon. However, they can also wreak havoc on your bedtime routine. If you need to be awake during the day, stick with early afternoon naps. If you do it in the late afternoon, you might end up being wide-awake at night. Try to minimize your nap timings to around 30 minutes to an hour too.
Commit to a Sleep Routine
If you want your body to feel like it needs to sleep at a certain time, you need to give it consistent nudges to do so. Stick to a bedtime routine like taking a warm bath, brushing your teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a book, meditating, and dimming the lights. While it may not seem to work at first, your body will soon learn that they’re cues to get some shut-eye.
Control Your Exposure to Light
Light is one of the most significant factors that influence your circadian rhythm. When light enters your retina, it signals the brain, and ultimately the rest of the body that it’s still daytime and that you need to stay awake.
Your body evolved to be awake when the sun’s out and fall asleep when it’s dark out. This is why it’s so hard for people to adjust to new time zones or work shifts. It throws their sleep schedule off balance. If you want to feel sleepy at an earlier time, turn off or dim the lights and reduce your exposure to screens before your bedtime. This will signal your body that it’s time to say goodnight to the people you’re chatting with and hit the hay.
Sleep, like food or water, is a basic need. And you need a lot of it in order to function properly when you’re awake. Having a messed up sleep schedule causes you to be deprived of much-needed rest during the day. Utilize these recommendations to recalibrate your body clock and get the full seven to nine hours of sleep.