Daylight Saving Time began once again yesterday, much to the annoyance of many. Most of us associate the “spring forward” with feelings of exhaustion, especially since the jump makes many of us lose an hour of rest. But while Daylight Saving Time is well known for its effect on our sleep and energy levels, sleep loss is not a problem that’s limited to this time of year.
The reality is that between 50-70 million Americans currently battle sleep disorders. Unfortunately, this long-term lack of quality sleep can have serious consequences - much more serious than needing a few more cups of coffee after Daylight Saving Time starts! So if you’re feeling particularly tired, or if you’ve found yourself feeling particularly sleepy or lethargic recently, it may be worth evaluating your sleep schedule as a possible source of the problem.
Sleep Loss & Your Health: A Major Problem
It’s a fact that people who are chronically sleep-deprived are more prone to a wide range of health risks. It of course stands to reason that chronic exhaustion would affect your ability to concentrate or focus - this is why people who are quite tired are more likely to get into accidents while driving.
But this is just the beginning of the problems associated with chronic sleep loss. Other health concerns include an increased risk of:
- Heart problems, including heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain and obesity
Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your immune system, too - which means that if you were dealing with a cold recently, your sleep or lack thereof could have contributed to your chances of getting sick in the first place.
Getting To The Root Of The Problem: Causes Of Sleep Deprivation
So what causes sleep deprivation? It truly depends. In some cases, an underlying health problem may be to blame, in which case help from the medical community will be essential in you reclaiming healthy sleep.
In many cases, however, our day-to-day habits actually contribute to our inability to sleep soundly. Consider, for example, these three contributors to a poor night’s rest:
- Any use of screens. Smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions...chances are that the things you enjoy doing in your free time involve one or more of these things. Unfortunately, using these gadgets and staring at screens affects our body’s ability to produce melatonin - a hormone that helps to regulate and control our sleep cycles. Not only does late night screen use keep you up longer as a result - it prevents you from sleeping into an undisturbed slumber. Abandoning any and all screen use at least two hours before going to sleep is highly recommended to help individuals experiencing poor sleep.
- Late night meals and snacks. Did you know that certain foods can prevent you from falling asleep? Meals that contain lots of protein or are high in fat content are especially problematic. These food groups are harder for the body to digest, so if you eat them right before bed, it could take you longer to drift to Dreamland. So if you must have a snack before bed, choose something light and rich in carbs.
- Indulging in naps. If you’re someone who already experiences difficulty sleeping, naps are one of the worst things you can do for yourself, as they can throw off our body’s natural sleep cycles. Even though it might be tempting to catch some shut-eye before dinnertime, it’s best to resist and save that sleep time for the later hours.
- Failing to set and keep a regular schedule. If you go to bed and wake up whenever you please, you’re not doing your body any favors. Maintaining a regular schedule is critical when obtaining good sleep. Setting a pattern for yourself will help your body manage its own internal clock more successfully. So as tempting as it is to stay up late sometimes (especially on the weekends), you’re better off staying as close to your day-to-day routine as possible 24/7.
Sleep Loss Matters - Contact Us Today For Assistance
As we’ve highlighted, there are definitely habits in our day-to-day routine that can disrupt our sleep. However, not all sleep disorders are caused by outside factors. Because of this, we highly recommend reporting any sleep problems you are experiencing to your doctor here at Genesis Medical, so they can help you determine the best way to get the rest you need to stay healthy. Happy snoozing!