Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Your body and brain "recharge" themselves during sleep - so if you don't get enough sleep, you can't be at your best the next day.
Lack of sleep can:
- Make performing even simple tasks difficult
- Impair short-term memory, concentration and alertness
- Increase the chance of being in an accident
- Slow your body's ability to fight disease and repair tissue
You're probably not getting the sleep you need if you:
- Feel groggy and lethargic in the morning
- Feel drowsy during the day
- Need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep
- Wake up frequently during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep
While everyone has different sleep needs, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that most people get eight hours of sleep per night. And it's not just the number of hours that count - it's also the quality of the sleep. It's important to get an uninterrupted, restful night's sleep.
Common Causes of Sleeplessness
A recent Gallup survey found that stress, pain, and being too hot or too cold were the most common causes of sleeplessness. Poor sleep habits and using certain drugs and medications can also affect the ability to sleep restfully.
If pain keeps you awake at night, you're not alone. A recent National Sleep Foundation survey found that 56 million Americans experience nighttime pain and sleeplessness, losing an average of more than 20 hours of sleep each month. Many of these people find it difficult to function at their best due to lack of sleep.
Follow these tips for a good night's sleep:
- Avoid substances that may cause sleep disturbances. Rather than relax you, drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco before bedtime may keep you awake. Drink caffeine in moderation, and not in the afternoon or evening.
- Get regular exercise, but avoid strenuous exercise two hours prior to bedtime. Exercise may "wake up" your body so that you can't sleep.
- Don't eat a heavy meal just before bedtime. Digesting a heavy meal may make you too uncomfortable to sleep.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Many people find that routine behavior helps them get a good night's sleep.
- Don't focus on your worries before bedtime. Anxiety is one of the most common causes of sleeplessness.
- If sleeplessness persists continuously for more than two weeks, consult your doctor.