Paybacks for Lost Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? Chronic sleep deprivation or accumulating “sleep debt,” can leave you feeling tired, listless and sleepy on a daily basis.

Most people need around seven to eight hours of sleep. Until you get the shut-eye your body needs, it won’t function as efficiently, your health will be at risk and even your job may suffer.

Sleep debt

Researchers know that a lack of sleep undermines the body’s ability to fight off disease. The resulting sleepiness also reduces the quality and quantity of people’s work, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

According to the NSF, short sleep duration is associated with many health risks, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Depression or substance abuse
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Obesity, because sleep deprivation causes increased appetite.

“People who don’t get enough sleep also have a harder time focusing, reacting quickly and remembering new information,” says Meeta Singh, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center.

A prescription for better sleep

Dr. Singh recommends a number of healthy habits to try to improve your sleep.

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Get regular daily exercise.
  • Don’t eat within four hours of going to bed.
  • Establish a pre-bedtime routine — brushing your teeth or reading — that lets your body know it’s time for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol three hours before bedtime and avoid tobacco completely.
  • Get up at the same time every day, no matter when you went to sleep.
  • Unwind from daily activities early so your mind is clear at bedtime.
  • Sleep in a dark, cool, quiet room on a comfortable mattress.

If you continue to have ongoing sleep issues, it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether or not you may need a sleep study or consultation with a sleep medicine specialist.

If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, learn more at

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