Tips And Tricks

asian girl sleeping on computerNot getting enough sleep is something all of us have experienced at one time or another. Mothers of newborns and infants are one of the groups where sleep deprivation often becomes chronic, and overstressed workers are another such group that springs to mind. While there are a number of reasons why we lose our sleep, the American Academy for Sleep Medicine groups them into four types of causes: voluntary behavior; personal obligations, which may include caring for a sick relative or yes, a newborn, as many of us know; work hours, in shift-based occupations, for example; and medical problems, such as some psychological disorders or diseases such as Parkinson’s. Abuse of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol hardly needs mentioning, they all interfere with healthy sleep, but the most widespread reason for sleep deprivation is stress of various kinds. Facing a deadline for a project, caring for a sick baby, fighting for a promotion against an overambitious colleague, these are just a few examples of the vast array of things that we encounter in our everyday lives and that can make us lose our sleep. So, how to fight it? Michael J. Breus Ph.D. suggests establishing a ritual before going to bed in order to separate ourselves from the daily stressors. You may be facing a very important deadline, but if you carry on working up until it’s really time to go to bed (and it’s way past your usual bedtime), you’ll most probably be unable to sleep well, since you’ll bring all your worries with you. Our brains, Breus says, cannot just switch off from everything that has happened during the day, they need time to get into sleep mode. Everyone has some relaxation techniques that help them wind down, so use one of these before you go to bed. Some light reading or a hot bath could do the trick, or even writing up a list of all the things that stressed you that day, as a way of putting an end to it, Breus suggests. Among the other elements of sleep hygiene — which involves all actions you can take to get healthy sleep — is a rethinking of all the things you use your bed for. Snacking and watching TV there is not a good habit, sleep experts say; the bed should only be used for sleep and intimacy. Make sure the temperature is comfortable, not too high and not too low, and that there are no light or noise sources disturbing your sleep during nighttime. At the same time, if you can, don’t stop morning light from coming in, it’ll make waking up more natural and easier. If you wake up at night, don’t stare at the clock, this will make you even more awake and irritated. A good and easy to follow rule is only to go to bed when you’re really tired. It’s best if this happens around the same time every night. And getting up at the same time every morning will help you establish a consistent circadian rhythm, ensuring you get as much sleep as you need. The thing about sleep is that nothing else can replace it. Medication is not the best solution if the problem is long-term and it’s also not the best solution because it doesn’t remove the causes of sleep deprivation. The only way to restore your sleep is follow the simple steps mentioned here. A brief mention of some of the adverse effects of sleep deprivation may motivate you. With regard to physical health, sleep deprivation has been found to be linked to higher risk of heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. And when it comes to your work performance, lack of sleep affects concentration, attention, coordination and decision-making. It also makes you slower to react, more easily distracted and drains your energy. So, next time when a deadline stares you in the face, make an effort and remind yourself that it is not a life and death situation and take a relaxing bath before going to bed.   Sources: http://www.aasmnet.org/resources/factsheets/sleepdeprivation.pdf http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/sleep-hygiene http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips