Sleep is important as research has shown that obesity and cardiovascular complications can result from a weakened immune system due to a lack of sleep. According to Huffington Post, people spend 33% of their lives sleeping and 7 years trying to fall asleep.
To date, medical practitioners and sleep experts remain divided on how much sleep a person needs. All tend to agree that inadequate sleep can lead to adverse consequences. Generally speaking, the amount of sleep that an individual requires will depend on their age, their level of physical activity, their lifestyle habits, and overall health. Based on information published by Mayo Clinic, adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
When it comes to sleep disorders, most people have experienced insomnia at some point. It is when a person has difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can be acute and for some, can affect them long term. Women tend to experience insomnia more than men. There are a number of reasons why a person may have difficulty falling asleep and finding the root cause may take time and a methodical approach.
For example, it may be worthwhile to consult a physician and sleep expert to see if there are physiological reasons for insomnia. You may discover that you have a condition called sleep apnea and require a CPAP machine to manage your breathing and help you gain a good night’s rest.
Alternatively, unresolved emotional issues may contribute to your inability to fall asleep. Stress and anxiety can easily consume your thoughts and keep you wide awake at night. Implementing physical exercise into your routine may help clear your thoughts. Similarly, you may consider going for a walk with a friend so that you can do some cardio and talk through the things that are on your mind.
Some issues may be difficult to discuss with a friend and leaving it unresolved will only further your anxiety and insomnia. Therefore, please seek professional advice from a counsellor or therapist such as those from New Vision Psychology.
On top of these strategies, there are little lifestyle habits that you can build into you evening routine to help your body and mind transition into the resting phase. Are you one of the 49 percent of people who open an app such as Facebook up to 10 times a day? If so, try to avoid doing so 2 hours before bedtime to reduce the risk of triggering a dopamine rush and crash. Instead, you can return to seeing how others are portraying their lives the next day after a good rest.
You may also consider dimming the lights after a certain hour and changing your old and uncomfortable pillow and mattress for something more suited to your sleeping profile. If you live close to a busy road or under a direct flight path, invest in a breathable eye mask and earbuds to minimize audio-visual distractions.
Beyond the usual suspects of lingering unresolved thoughts and social media overload, poor sleep can usually be attributed to sleep apnea. This is a sleeping disorder where you experience skipping breathings. If your partner tells you that you snore loudly and you wake up feeling tired after a full night’s sleep, this could also be a sign of apnea.
Sleep apnea is classified into three types;
- obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- central sleep apnea
- complex sleep apnea syndrome
Sometimes symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea can converge, making it difficult to determine which one you have.
The most common symptoms are: (i) a dry mouth when waking up, (ii) gasping for air during sleep, (iii) waking up with a headache, (iv) having difficulty staying on-task during the day, (v) being irritable, and (vi) feeling sleepy during the day.
If you experience these symptoms regularly, you should consult a physician and book an appointment at a sleep clinic for further diagnosis and treatment options.