How many hours of sleep does the average person get each night? Not enough, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. One in three Americans does not get adequate sleep, and common sleep problems ail people all across the globe.
While many people know they do not get the amount of sleep that they need, there is little being done to remedy this issue. Instead, common behaviors such as using a mobile device or watching television in bed go unabated, leading to further lack of sleep.
These sources of light can disrupt the circadian rhythms of the human body, causing the person in question to remain awake, tossing and turning for hours.
A common problem affecting many, both young and old, is the inability to fall asleep or taking a very long time to fall asleep. This is not unusual, and it’s explained as a “delayed sleep phase.” According to Dr. John Kimoff of the McGill University Health Centre’s Sleep Laboratory, “It takes many, many hours to get to sleep, but once you are asleep you can actually sleep for a fairly reasonable duration.” However, it is waking at an early hour that disrupts the cycle if it’s delayed. This problem is most common among adolescents and teenagers.
Another prevalent sleep issue is insomnia, which currently affects 60 million Americans nationwide. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. While everyone experiences sleepless nights, or wakes up multiple times during their sleep cycle, when the problem persists on a regular basis, it is considered a chronic condition.
Tips for Better Sleep
To combat this, Dr. Kimoff suggests cognitive behavioral therapies. Meditative breathing, relaxation and other exercises to calm the mind and body are suggested to promote better sleep if insomnia persists.
Strangely enough, taking a power nap can also help to alleviate sleep issues caused from working night shifts or irregular hours. Working strange shifts throws the body off-schedule, as human beings are generally oriented to operate during the day and rest at night. However, certain occupations require that people work through the night or begin very early in the morning. This is tough to counteract, but Dr. Kimoff has found that taking power naps during the shift can be highly beneficial. Using a break to take a quick 15 to 30 minute nap can lead to better sleep when the shift ends.
What’s at Stake
Better sleep is an elusive yet crucial component to overall health and well-being. The Endocrine Society warns that even missing out on 30 minutes of sleep each night can increase blood sugar levels and cause weight gain.
The ramifications of not getting enough go beyond the physical as well. Cognitive performance plummets dramatically when sleep is restricted, even causing memory loss in some cases. The importance of sleep must be realized for optimal performance, both physically and mentally.