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Combating the Negative Effects of Not Getting Adequate Sleep

Nothing is more important for your health than a good night’s sleep. Experts agree adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but many people fall short.

Sleep is when the body goes into repair mode. Consistently getting less than seven hours of adequate sleep can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, and that’s when serious health problems can set in.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be time to get to the local mattress store or schedule a doctor’s visit to resolve the issues that are keeping you awake.

Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Health

Despite what doctors are uncovering through research, many people are still convinced they can get by with less than seven hours of sleep a night. Researchers, including Dr. Laura Haride of the University of Leeds, note that sleep needs differ from person to person; however, the vast majority of people will feel the effects of sleep deprivation over time.

Here are just a few reasons why sleep is so important for your general health. Sleep deprivation can:

  • Increase the risk of obesity
  • Lower levels of HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Cause poor memory and concentration
  • Lead to depressed mood, irritability and mood swings
  • Increase the likelihood of anxiety and mental distress
  • Increase blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Cause impaired glucose control and processing
  • Compromise immune function
  • Reduce alertness and reaction time

Some of the conditions above can cause a domino effect that leads to additional health problems. For example, obesity increases a person’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Fatigue and reduced alertness also increase your chance of sustaining an occupational or automobile injury.

Sleep deprivation creates such serious long-term health issues it can shorten life expectancy. Multiple crowd-sectional studies have concluded sleeping five hours or less a night increases mortality risk by 15 percent.

Proven Tips for Improving Sleep

As difficult as it may be to get to sleep and stay asleep, there are many things you can do increase shuteye. The tips below are proven ways to improve sleep starting tonight.

Invest in a better mattress – An old, unsupportive mattress is one of the most common reasons people have trouble sleeping. Over time mattress breakdown, gather dust and aren’t as comfortable as they used to be. After 10 years of use, you may need to invest in another mattress.

Create a sleep routine – A regular sleep routine can help prime the brain and body for rest. Try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same every day, even on the weekends. At most, there should only be an hour difference between weekdays and weekends.

Shut off screens an hour before bed – Technology is a modern day issue that’s impacting sleep. The light emitted from screens can affect sleeping patterns by promoting wakefulness. Sleep experts recommend shutting all screens off at least an hour before bedtime.

Take steps to reduce stress – Stress is another common problem that can affect your ability to sleep. The key to reducing stress is knowing what triggers it. Keeping a daily journal that notes when you feel stressed, the circumstances and how you reacted can help identify triggers.

Refrain from eating before bed – A stomach full of food will keep you up at night. It’s best to refrain from eating large meals at least two hours before bed. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime.

See a sleep specialist – The American Sleep Disorders Association has identified 85+ sleep disorders that affect approximately 70 million people in the U.S. A sleep specialist can determine if sleep apnea or another disorder is disrupting your sleep.

Get more physical activity during the day – Exercise can help improve sleep no matter how intense the workout is. Just make sure to exercise well before bedtime to prevent feeling a surge of energy shortly before sleep.

Sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s necessary for your health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Make time for an extra hour or two of sleep a night and you’ll be able to rest a little easier.

About the author: Katherine Smith (Kat) is a San Diego based freelance writer who enjoys writing on a wide variety of fitness and entertainment topics. In her free time Kat enjoys the beach and playing volleyball with family and friends.

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