Sleep problems unfortunately are becoming a bigger issue in our society. Some people who have sleep disorders are not even aware that there is a problem. Here are some of the symptoms you can have when you don’t get the five levels of sleep at night that you should.
The effects include:
- Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
- Moodiness and irritability
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Inability to cope with stress
- Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
- Concentration and memory problems
- Weight gain
- Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
- Difficulty making decisions
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems
If two or more of these symptoms are ones you identify with you might be having a sleep disorder. Sleep is an important time for your body to regenerate itself particularly your digestive system. Another sign of poor sleep is a lack of appetite in the morning. If you don’t have a desire for breakfast within 30 minutes of waking you might have a problem sleeping. Below is a chart that tells our needs for sleep by age:
|Average Sleep Needs by Age|
|Newborn to 2 months old||12 - 18 hrs|
|3 months to 1 year old||14 - 15 hrs|
|1 to 3 years old||12 - 14 hrs|
|3 to 5 years old||11 - 13 hrs|
|5 to 12 years old||10 - 11 hrs|
|12 to 18 years old||8.5 - 10 hrs|
|Adults (18+)||7.5 - 9 hrs|
Myths and Facts about Sleep
Myth 1: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Myth 2: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules. Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by one or two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.
Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue. The quantity of sleep you get is important, sure, but it's the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.
Myth 4: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends. Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.
You may be sleep deprived if you...
- Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
- Rely on the snooze button
- Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
- Feel sluggish in the afternoon
- Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
- Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
- Need to nap to get through the day
- Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
- Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
- Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed
The good news is that you don't have to choose between health and productivity. As you start getting the sleep you need, your energy and efficiency will go up. In fact, you're likely to find that you actually get more done during the day than when you were skimping on shuteye.
Here are some recommended tools to help rehabilitate your sleep mechanism:
- Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
Take a hot bath
Your temperature naturally dips at night, starting two hours before sleep and bottoming out at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., according to a 1997 study conducted by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, N.Y. When you soak in a hot tub, your temperature rises—and the rapid cool-down period immediately afterward relaxes you.
Two hours before bed, soak in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes, recommends Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine. "If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep," she says. A shower is less effective but can work, as well.
Lay out your clothes
You can help your body recognize that bedtime is imminent by setting routines and repeating them every night.
"We suggest that people establish regular nightly routines before they get into bed, to help their brain shift into sleep mode," says Gary Zammit, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York. "Laying out your pajamas, brushing your hair or your teeth—these habits can be very sleep-conducive."
Shun p.m. stimulants
Skipping your normal cup of joe should help you fall asleep quicker, because caffeine is a stimulant. "I don't like people having caffeine after noontime if they have poor sleep, because it can hang out in the system for a long time," says Walsleben.
Even decaf drinkers should beware: A 2007 Consumer Reports study found that even decaffeinated coffees sold at several chain restaurants contained caffeine, with one from a big chain having 32 milligrams of caffeine per cup—about the same amount as in 12 ounces of cola.
Nicotine is also a stimulant; smoking to relax before bed can actually do the opposite, revving up your heart rate and keeping your brain alert, says Walsleben.
Shut down electronics
You may find it relaxing to catch up on correspondence with friends just before turning in for the night, but the practice could increase the amount of time you toss and turn. Lit screens (that includes televisions too) are stimulating, says Walsleben, so it's best to avoid them.
"Before your targeted bedtime, begin slowing down your brain by doing something calming, like reading in a comfy chair—somewhere other than bed," she says. "Stop watching TV and checking email."
Wear socks to bed
If cold feet are keeping you awake—especially during the winter—warm them up with a soft pair of socks. The extra layer under the covers can help improve circulation in your extremities, which can help you fall asleep more quickly, according to Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Limit evening food and drinks
A large meal or spicy snack too close to bedtime can leave your digestive system working overtime while the rest of your body lies awake. And alcohol may make you drowsy, but it will disrupt your sleep patterns later in the night and keep you from getting the deep, restorative REM sleep you need to feel refreshed.
If you drink a lot of any liquid before bed, for that matter, you may be up throughout the night using the bathroom. "Most adults middle-age and older have to get up at night for this reason," says William C. Dement, MD, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and author of The Promise of Sleep, "but restricting fluids before bed can help."
Make Some Noise
Some people need to sleep in complete silence; while on the other hand, some need a little background noise. For many (myself included), the dripping of the faucet, the hum of electricity, the sound of themselves breathing, or the blankets rustling as they toss and turn stresses them out and keeps them awake. So what’s the deal? Technically speaking, white noise is a consistent noise that comes out evenly across all hearable frequencies. When you get jarred awake or bothered by a noise at night, it’s not really the noise itself, but the abrupt inconsistency in the noise that you hear. The fact of the matter is you still hear when you sleep, and white noise can mask those inconsistences. The scientific aspect set aside its just plain soothing, filling out the silence that makes you feel trapped with racing thoughts or excess energy.
You will need…
-Something that creates white noise
When you go to sleep, turn on the white noise. My personal favorite is a fan, but there are even white noise machines tuned specifically for the purpose of drowning out sound.
- If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can't fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
- Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
- Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner's sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattressand Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up
Addressing sleep disorders through nutrition can be very effective. When we address nutrition it’s important to have an underlying diet that helps balance your chemistry. We utilize the body type system in determining the ratio of fats, carbohydrates and protein that your body needs. So besides eating the diet that’s correct for your body type the following nutritional supplements can be very helpful. We offer reflex testing that can help individualize a nutritional program as well as lab work can be employed to have a better understanding of your chemistry.
Magnesium is a sleep booster, Plus, by taking magnesium, you cancel out any potential heart problems .
If you've suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. It's also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety—and may even quell restless legs syndrome. When using a wild-lettuce supplement, take 30 to 120 milligrams before bed.
Beer fans will no doubt be familiar with the calming effect of hops, the female flowers used in beer making. For sleep purposes, though, this extract has been widely used as a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia. Take 30 to 120 milligrams before climbing under the covers.
Lavender is the trick here, as studies have proven that it aids in sleep. It's also a cheap, nontoxic way to slip into a peaceful slumber. Find a spray with real lavender and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime. Or buy a lavender-filled pillow.
Close your eyes and, for 5 to 10 minutes, pay attention to nothing but your breathing.
This medicinal herb has been used to treat sleep problems since ancient times. “Valerian can be sedating and may help you fall asleep,” says Tracey Marks, MD, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist.
This amino acid found in green tea leaves may help combat anxiety that interferes with sleep. A 2007 study showed that L-theanine reduced heart rate and immune responses to stress. It's thought to work by boosting the amount of a feel-good hormone your body makes. It also induces brain waves linked to relaxation. Talk to your doctor before taking it.
Put other appliances to bed, too. If you want a good, restful sleep, turn your appliances away from your bed. Or better yet, turn them off altogether. If you must use bedroom electronics, choose those illuminated with red light, which is better for sleep than blue light.
Give it up. If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, sleep specialists recommend you get up and leave your bedroom or read. Then return to your bed to sleep when you feel tired again.
They helped calm you down, bananas contain tryptophan, and potassium and magnesium as well, which are muscle relaxants. Have one a half-an-hour before bed every night and up your magnesium levels while simultaneously relaxing your muscles.
Drink a Cup of Chamomile
Chamomile has long been a reliable remedy for helping people doze off. It relaxes your muscles, and is thought that, potentially, a substance called apigenin can bind to GABA receptors which affect the central nervous system and sleepiness. Other studies have disagreed with apegign theory, and think other constituents in the chamomile are what act as a sedative. Either way, it’s tasty and it makes you tired. You can, of course, buy chamomile tea from the store, but I personally love it fresh as well.
You will need…
-A rounded ¼ cup of fresh chamomile flowers OR 2 rounded tablespoons of dry flowers
-Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
There’s nothing quite as delightful as a cup of freshly brewed chamomile on a chilly night as you settle in for bed. If possible, try to use fresh flowers (German variety, preferably) but you can use dried as well if you cannot harvest fresh.
If you’re using fresh flowers, use only the flower heads and compost the stems. Place the flowers in a teapot, and in a separate pot bring 4 cups of cold water to a rolling boil. Pour the water in the pot over the flower in the tea pot. Let steep for 5-6 minutes and serve hot. Do the same process for dried as for fresh, but use 2 rounded tablespoons of dried flowers. Add a little bit of honey and milk to taste. Squeeze in the juice of a freshly sliced lemon to taste as well.
Cozy Up with Catnip
Catnip, a plant that is a member of the mint family, isn’t just for cats-it works a treat when it comes to having a sedative effect on humans. The compound responsible for catnip’s effects across both species is called nepetalactone. While it can make cats frisky and wild, it can make people relaxed, drowsy, and ready for bed. Enjoy it in the form of a warm tea before bed with a little bit of honey.
You will need…
-1-2 teaspoons of dried catnip OR 3-4 teaspoons of fresh catnip
-8 ounces of boiling water
-Honey to taste (optional)
Place catnip in a mug and cover with boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, covered, and then add honey to taste if you like. Drink 30 minutes before bedtime.
Saint John’s Wort
Like lemon balm, Saint John’s Wort is used frequently to help with depression, and in turn helps with disrupted sleep. Its main constituent-hypercine- is thought to work by reuptake inhibition, which raises the overall level of serotonin in the brain. More serotonin = more melatonin= better sleep. You can take it in capsule form, or prepare a strong tea to use as a sleep aid.
You will need…
-2 teaspoons of dried Saint John’s Wort (herb top/flowers)
-8 ounces of freshly boiled water
-honey or lemon to taste (optional)
Place the herb in a mug and cover with boiling water. Steep for 5-10 minutes, strain, and drink once daily (either morning or 30-45 minutes before bed.)
Melatonin is the hormone that controls sleep, so it's no wonder that it naturally induces sleep. Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are more effective. Plus, there's concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as well as raise the risk of depression or infertility. Take 0.3 to 0.5 milligrams before bed.
Cherries: Not too hard to guess since cherry juice was one of the first things listed, but they also contain tryptophan which is metabolized into serotonin and finally melatonin
Install a dimmer switch
Late in the evening, your body releases the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy—but only if it receives the right cues from your environment. "Melatonin is your hormone of darkness—it won't flow with the lights on," says Walsleben. "You want to transition to dark as early as 9 or 10 o'clock." Sitting in a dimly lit room before getting ready for bed can put you in the right mind-set for sleep.
Breathing can help with sleep CLICK DID YOU EVER LEARN TO BREATHE
For the best quality of sleep you need to support your neck and back in a way that relaxes the muscles along with spine. The proper sleep position will not only enhance the quality of sleep but will help prevent you from waking up with aches and pains. If you're someone who tosses and turns a lot at night you might benefit from a supplement called niacin. A time-released niacin tablet can keep your blood flowing in a way to make your muscles more relaxed and less likely to develop pressure points that require you to turn over. Stomach sleeping is the worst position that you can sleep in because you have to turn your neck all night to breathe and it stresses your low back. Side sleeping with the appropriate pillow thickness under your head to keep your neck and spine and align in keeping something you between your knees or for your bent knee a rest on it is important. For back sleeping support your neck not your head and consider a pillow under your knees.