Sleep is how we spend a third of our lives, so it is unquestionably important to the quality of the other two thirds. It’s no surprise that how well we sleep has a huge impact on both our physical and mental health in countless ways - to the point where it is not just a frustrating nuisance, but a major widespread health concern. Many people don’t realize some of the types of suffering they experience in their day to day lives are symptoms of poor sleep quality. Read on to see if this sounds like you - and how you can optimize your sleep hygiene to fix it.
Inconsistent Sleep Patterns
You probably know if your sleep is inconsistent, especially if you’re waking up in the morning feeling unrested and unsatisfied. The telltale signs are, regularly waking up more than once per night, staying awake for more than 20 minutes during these occurrences, and overall, spending less than 85 percent of your time in bed asleep. A common reason for waking up in the middle of the night is needing to go to the bathroom, so it’s helpful to limit fluids for a while before bedtime. However there can be many underlying causes for not sleeping through the night.
Insomnia or Trouble Falling Asleep
You might be wondering, how long should I be taking to fall asleep? What qualifies as having trouble falling asleep? It’s very common to face a nightly obstacle of letting the mind quiet down from a stressful and chaotic day, especially for those who have to work at night, or have responsibilities like children keeping them busy right up until bedtime. Generally, if it takes more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed, something needs to change. There are a number of things you can do to get your body’s biological clock in tune, so that by the time you rest your head down, your mind and body are ready for a peaceful rest. Many people with insomnia don’t realize that their nighttime habits are actually what is keeping them awake. Click here for the steps to take to combat this, and start falling asleep faster.
Grogginess During the Day
While sleeping poorly is frustrating, having the resulting inconvenience carry on into the day is just as much of a nuisance. Snoozing that alarm one too many times, or even falling back asleep accidentally are clear signs you didn’t get restful sleep, and can turn into seriously consequential issues when it comes to tending to responsibilities. Also, more often than not, going back to sleep after waking up still tired will actually make you more tired throughout the whole day. Feeling groggy when you wake up is no way to start a productive day, especially when the sluggishness continues for too long.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Poor sleep can be a symptom of anxiety and depression, and conveniently enough, also contributes to it. A lack of restful sleep can both cause stress and lessen your ability to cope with it. This is one of the major ways that deprivation of proper sleep can result in more serious health concerns - high stress levels cause the release of the hormone cortisol, which unchecked can lead to high blood pressure and cognitive decline. Without good sleep, the prefrontal cortex in the brain is weakened, making it more difficult to process and deal with emotions. Anxiety and stress are unfortunately not a unique experience, however lavender can be used as one of the most effective natural remedies.
Fatigue and Low Energy Levels
This one’s a no-brainer, if your sleep is less than satisfactory, your energy will be as well. Fatigue can make every day an uphill battle, and can amplify, burnout, and just about every other issue we face. Not having the energy to do what you need to will naturally create added stress, and lower your quality of performance. Most people compensate for their low energy with copious amounts of caffeine. This creates a vicious cycle, as too much caffeine is a major component in poor sleep. This is why it's important to consume caffeine with careful moderation.
Difficulty Focusing and Memory Problems
It’s a common experience to be at work first thing in the morning and find yourself unable to stay on task, or having to reread or re-check things multiple times. A tired brain is not able to function as it should, and this manifests in the way we work, often causing frustrating issues and lacking productivity. The brain is surprisingly active while we sleep, completing a wide range of cognitive tasks as we slumber. When sleep is not deep enough, long enough, or interrupted, this takes a toll on the brain’s health, and your focus and cognitive abilities when awake.
Irritability and Mood Swings
Everyone knows being tired and grumpy go hand in hand. Studies have shown that sleep deprived individuals report increases in negative moods such as anger, irritability, and sadness, and, unsurprisingly, decreased positive moods. This makes perfect sense, with all the issues listed before this, one is bound to experience more frustration with the obstacles they face daily, especially when they are unable to handle them at their normal functioning capacity.
Beyond just temporary feelings, sleep problems can even lead to physically noticeable and less than favorable changes. Research has indicated that poor sleep can actually increase your appetite, especially for unhealthy junk foods as a result of less impulse control. This, along with the stress the body is put under, and even an impaired response to insulin, can cause weight gain. Additionally, people sleeping badly often experience skin issues such as breakouts, and eye changes, such as being puffy, red and forming darker, more prominent under-eye bags.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
The good news is, these symptoms can be remedied. Recognizing these issues and their severity is the first step - once you can identify the problem or problems with your sleep, improving your sleep hygiene will come easy. This article will help you figure out what you need to change. A great way to relax the mind and get to sleep easier is with melatonin, the body’s naturally produced hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm and tells the body when to rest. There’s no good health without good sleep!