Have you been known to doze off while working at the computer or during a business meeting? Do you feel tired daily? Are you one of the many running around sleep-deprived? Then, you may want to read on.
More and more people are suffering from sleep deprivation. It means we are not getting an adequate amount of sleep to function at our best.
Are you aware of the signals of being sleep deprived? On my client’s initial visit form, one of the questions I ask is if they have difficulty falling asleep. A number of my clients say something along the lines like, “No, as soon as I put my head on the pillow, I’m out cold.” They follow it up by saying they don’t need help with going to sleep. On the surface, this may appear like they have no sleep challenges. However, what many of these individuals are doing is collapsing or crashing due to exhaustion.
Falling asleep is a gradual process.
Sleep researcher, William C. Dement, conducted a sleep test and discovered that it typically took sleep subjects about 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. Here is a simple explanation of this gradual process.
When we retire to bed, our alert and active beta brain waves slowly turn off, for instance, after a few minutes reading an inspirational book. We begin to slow ourselves down. Once we stop reading, shut off the lights, and close the eyes, our slower alpha brain waves start to form. We are relaxed, yet awake. Our breathing rate and heartbeat begin to slow down, blood pressure lowers, and there is a decrease in our core body temperature and muscular tension. Then this is followed by an increase in theta brain waves – a state also experienced during deep relaxation, meditation, and daydreaming. The theta waves replace the alpha waves allowing you to drift off to sleep and eventually enter the deep sleep delta waves. Chronic pain and other conditions can interrupt this process.
Be aware of the signals.
We cannot function properly with a constant lack of sleep. There are repercussions. Here are ten signs to look out for if you or anyone you know lacks proper sleep.
- Falling asleep within a minute or two of lying down in bed.
- Oversleeping, hit the snooze button and falling back to sleep, or sleeping through your alarm altogether.
- Need caffeine to get going in the morning and coffee breaks throughout the day.
- Crave sugar and junk food carbs to get a boost of energy.
- Falling asleep or feeling drowsy during the day
- Physical weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Forgetfulness and issues with memory
- Irritability, frustration, and lack of patience
- Mood swings and depression
If you are experiencing these warning signs and symptoms, consult your doctor to help determine the root cause and rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Why people are sleep deprived
There are many reasons why people find it a challenge to fall asleep naturally and stay asleep. Chronic stress and anxiety triggers the sympathetic nervous system and keeps the body in a fight-flight-freeze mode. Stress hinders the body’s ability to switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for relaxation, and necessary to prepare for sleep. Medical causes are pain and illness, sleep apnea, and heartburn. A person’s work schedule can also be a factor, especially for those who work the night shift. Age can also be an issue. As we get older, many turn into light sleepers waking up frequently throughout the night.
You can make a change.
We can find possible solutions for sleep deprivation, starting with our thoughts, behaviors, and lifestyle choices. We need to rectify the problem by detecting the causes and correcting them. The following are nine suggestions to start you on your way to better sleep.
- Keep a regular bedtime and wake up schedule
- Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before sleep
- Avoid drinking water or alcohol 2 hours before sleep
- For heartburn suffers, do not eat late at night. Avoid salty, fried foods; citrus; tomato products; coffee; and carbonated beverages, to name a few. Favor fresh ginger, vegetables, and non-citrus fruits.
- Before sleep, slow your breath down with deep abdominal breathing.
- When you close the eyes to sleep, focus on images that help you feel relaxed
- Rearrange your work schedule, if possible
- Do not work in bed or use light-emitting devices in the bedroom before sleep
- Seek out a practitioner of light therapy
It is recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and this includes seniors. It’s a fallacy that you need less sleep as you get older. It is my intention that this article has shed some light on our need for sleep and ways to improve our ability to sleep.
Note: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor first before starting any new practices or health programs.
Copywriter Notice: No part of this article may be used without the written permission of Jan Kinder.