If you feel like you don’t have enough hours in a day or if you start stealing from the hours when you should be sleeping, it might be time to wake up to the fact that you could be hurting yourself.
A lack of sleep has consequences beyond just dark circles on your eyes or feeling tired the next day. Although symptoms of sleeplessness can be subtle, the impact that inadequate sleep may have on your health and well-being could be detrimental. A new nationwide survey conducted by WakeUpSleepyHead.com showed that more than half of Americans are not getting enough sleep.
They found that the average American spends 44 minutes in bed doing things besides trying to sleep:
— 59% percent of people are searching through the internet.
— 57% are watching TV.
— 52% spend their time scrolling through social media.
Even if you’re enjoying the alone time with your screen, this practice right before bedtime might bring too much stimulation and prevent you from falling asleep. Moreover, the blue light emitted from televisions, phones, computers and tablets might suppress melatonin, a hormone that is produced in the brain and that reduces the length of time needed to fall asleep. That means you might do a lot of tossing and turning before finally relaxing.
6 Signs You Aren’t Sleeping Enough
If you’re worried about your sleep or think something more serious may be wrong with your health, try paying attention to these signals that your body might be giving you:
You don’t have energy.
A restless night could make you feel like crawling onto your desk by 10 a.m. If you’d rather run for your pillow than go for a run, that lack of energy could be the result of a lack of sleep. Even simple tasks could seem monumental when you’re feeling listless. Additionally, if your solution to feeling tired is a late afternoon caffeine pick-me-up, this practice could actually be what’s keeping you up at night.
You find it difficult to concentrate.
Disrupted sleep might also have an impact on your memory. Science has shown that it’s harder to focus, pay attention and make decisions when you’re sleep deprived. Whether you’re working at an office, working from home or just trying to get through your to-do list, not getting enough sleep will make concentrating more difficult.
[READ: Mental Benefits of Exercise.]
Your medical issues are worsening or developing.
Sleep deprivation can lead to problems like high blood pressure and diabetes. If you have hypertension, your blood pressure most likely will go down while you sleep. The longer you’re awake, the longer your blood pressure may remain elevated. If you have diabetes, regularity in your sleep cycle could keep your blood sugar levels more stable. Reduced sleep could also impact your body weight by affecting hormone levels. Changes in hormone levels due to inadequate sleep can create erratic eating habits which in turn could have an impact on your blood pressure and blood sugar.
You feel moody, depressed or angry.
Although sleeplessness can be a symptom of a disorder like depression, you can feel depressed from a lack of sleep as well. Sleep deprivation might also lead to reduced patience and make you not want to socialize. You might even anger more easily and find it difficult to cope with stressful situations.
You doze during the day.
Nap time is fine if you’re an infant or if 20 minutes of shut-eye makes you feel recharged, but a typical adult doesn’t need to nap during the day. If you’re falling asleep during the day, it could interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep at night.
You get colds more frequently.
A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation could make you more susceptible to infection and make it more difficult to fight off disease.
The Food-Sleep Connection
Certain foods practically seem like they can rock you to sleep, while others keep you staring at the ceiling. Cheese, cherries, kiwi, almonds and chamomile tea have been shown to induce sleep while caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and greasy or sugary snacks can keep you wide awake. There’s no need to go to bed hungry since a rumbling tummy can also keep you awake. However, if you do enjoy an evening snack, be mindful of portion sizes and avoid eating too close to bedtime.
How to Get Better Sleep
There are many techniques that might help you sleep more easily, from deep breathing to visualizations. Different techniques will work for different people, so try a few out to see what works best for you.
Also try setting a consistent sleep schedule and keeping your room at a comfortable temperature. Minimizing screen time by shutting your devices off two hours before bed is highly recommended, but for a more realistic plan, try turning your devices off at least 30 minutes before shutting your eyes.
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