In the blink of an eye, we’ve become a society of night owls. We aren’t sitting in a tree waiting to catch prey, but we are watching for the next text, email or message that comes our way! Why can’t we get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night?
Is it because we’re binge watching our favorite TV show or surfing Instagram each night? Is that soft blue light coming from our electronic devices creating a sense of daylight in our minds? Many of us can’t remember the last time we got some good shut-eye and awakened refreshed.
Those who are at a greater risk
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep puts an enormous strain on our physical health and mental well-being. The Mayo Clinic outlines that there is a greater risk of sleep issues for the following groups:
- Women: Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle and menopause can cause sleep issues when women experience night sweats and hot flashes. Sleep problems are also common in pregnancy.
- People over the age of sixty.
- People with mental health disorders or physical health conditions, and those who are under a lot of stress.
- People with erratic schedules, changing work shifts, or frequent travel.
Closing our eyes to some hidden health issues
It’s probably no surprise that a lack of sleep robs us of important health benefits and puts us at a greater risk for:
- Developing chronic conditions: obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure.
- Coronary artery disease or stroke.
- Weakened immune system.
- Short- and long-term memory issues.
- Weight gain.
- Lack of sex drive.
- Work-related or highway traffic accidents.
If your days are spent yawning or you suffer from daytime fatigue, irritability or excessive sleepiness, you may not be getting enough sleep. Chronic sleep loss may also lead to long-term mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional if you continue to have sleep loss or poor-quality sleep.
Catching some zzz’s…
Grabbing that extra cup of coffee or energy drink to boost alertness is short-lived, but you can take some important steps for better sleep by following some simple steps:
- Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent, including weekends. Make your bedroom comfortable.
- Stay active.
- Avoid or limit naps.
- Avoid large meals and limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual: Take a warm bath and/or listen to some soft music.
- Turn off the electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
Time to find that comfy pillow and snooze!
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for healthcare by your physician.