There are a lot of issues with the health of many people in the modern world. You can find constant articles and blog posts being written about how our diets are shortening our lives or how none of us are drinking enough water. Now, there is certainly some validity to those claims since the amount that you eat and drink is always going to have a pretty significant impact on your health. However, there’s one thing that a lot of people tend to ignore when they’re talking about the things that you need to consider when thinking about your overall health. That thing is, of course, sleep. It might not be the first thing that many people think of when they are making considerations for their health, but sleep is one of the most important things of all when it comes to living a healthy, happy lifestyle. If you’re not sleeping, then you could end up with a whole host of health problems that can be incredibly difficult to deal with. In order to help you avoid any of these issues, here are some of the most common reasons why people have a lack of sleep, the dangers that it can present, and what you can do to avoid it.
Sleep apnea and snoring
While they have a lot of similarities, sleep apnea and snoring aren’t actually the same thing, although they often happen at the same time. Sleep apnea is, essentially, periods where your breathing stops. These periods can happen up to thirty times and hour and can last from a few seconds to a few minutes! Loud snoring often signals sleep apnea, and they are often caused by the same underlying issues. There are so many available stop snoring solutions that it can be pretty difficult to figure out which is the right one. From devices designed to bring your jaw forwards to ones that pull your tongue out of the way to make your breathing easier. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor before trying any of these solutions since you don’t want to end up making the problem even worse.
Now while this might sound scary, in reality, the most common chemicals that are going to have a serious impact on your ability to sleep are caffeine and alcohol. Drinking too much of either is going to disrupt your bodily functions in a variety of ways, many of which can seriously affect your ability to sleep. The ways in which caffeine can impact your sleep should be pretty obvious. After all, people drink caffeine to stay awake and alert. Not only that but when you wake up the next day, you’ll be even more tired because of the caffeine, which means you’ll need a cup of coffee to be able to function, which leads you round and round in circles in some pretty dangerous ways. You might think that alcohol won’t cause any issues since it often makes you very tired. However, while alcohol might help you get to sleep, it actually makes it very difficult to stay asleep. If you drink alcohol before bed, then there’s a very good chance that you’ll find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, often more than once.
Stress is probably the most common reason that most people have for why they’re unable to sleep. Everyone knows how hard it is to get to sleep when you’re mind is racing. This isn’t always a bad thing; everyone knows the feeling of being so excited for something coming up that you can’t sleep, you feel like a kid at Christmas! But it’s certainly nowhere near as fun when you’ve got something important coming the next day, and you really need to be well rested. Not only that but when you finally do get to sleep, you’ll often have to deal with stress dreams that often wake you up in the night and can make you feel even worse.
The dangers of not sleeping
Some people might assume that losing sleep isn’t going to do much to your body other than leaving you feeling a little bit tired. However, the issues can be a lot more significant than that.
Of course, tiredness during the day might well be the most significant issue when you’re unable to sleep, but it’s a lot worse than just feeling like you need a nap. When your energy levels are drained then your concentration and ability to focus on things is drastically impaired. This can make getting anything done at work a serious challenge, which can lead to some pretty unpleasant issues. Not only that but things like getting behind the wheel of a car can suddenly become incredibly dangerous! Being tired when you’re driving is often as dangerous as getting behind the wheel when you’re drunk. You lack the ability to react in time and falling asleep at the wheel can have serious, often deadly, consequences.
Not only does losing sleep make you feel exhausted, but it can also have a pretty negative impact on your mental health. A lack of sleep has been linked to things like depression and anxiety and has also been known to make a whole host of mental disorders far worse than they would otherwise have been. Long-term insomnia can even lead to things like hallucinations and hearing voices, something that no one wants to experience for any reason!
It’s not just your mental health that suffers from a lack of sleep either; it often takes a toll on your physical health as well. A lack of sleep has been linked to things like serious weight gain among other health issues. The amount of sleep that you’re getting impacts your body’s ability to produce ghrelin and leptin, which are the hormones that regulate your hunger levels. By throwing those hormones out of balance, you’ll make yourself much more likely to eat too much as well as eating the kinds of foods that are going to be bad for you. This is part of the reason why midnight snacks are often so tempting! The fatigue that comes from a lack of sleep is also a pretty significant factor in how much physical activity you’re able to do. Feeling exhausted is going to lead you to avoid exercise which is going to make it that much harder to keep weight off.
What can you do?
All of this might make it feel as though there’s nothing that you can do about the problems that a lack of sleep can cause. However, that’s not the case. Here are a few things that you can do to try and take back control of your sleep pattern.
Fix your routine
It doesn’t actually matter how much you sleep if your routine is out of sync. If you’re going to bed late and sleeping late, then you’re still going to end up feeling tired and irritable. The key is to get to bed nice and early and wake up at a sensible time. Also, the snooze button is your enemy! Get up when your alarm first goes off, and you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll be much more likely to get to sleep that night.
Cut out the caffeine
This should be obvious but make sure that you’re staying away from caffeine as much as possible, especially late at night. If you really love coffee then switch to decaf. You might even find that you’re so used to the boost that the coffee gives you that you’ll still get it from decaf, without having to worry about the awful caffeine withdrawal when you have to go without it.
Turn of the gadgets
We all spend our lives starting at gadgets and screens pretty much all day. Most of us work on computers and even those who don’t spend most of their free time staring at TVs, tablets, computers, and phones. The glaring light that comes from those screens has a serious impact on your brain and prevents it from being able to turn off at night. Make sure that you put away any bright screens a good hour before you go to sleep. Sit and read a book by lamplight or simply give your eyes and brain a chance to adjust to the dark. Plenty of gadgets now have a night-time mode which produces a softer, orange light. However, it’s still best to try and avoid screens altogether late at night.
See a doctor
If things are really serious, then you should make sure to seek out medical help as quickly as possible. If you’ve tried everything and you still can’t sleep, then there could well be a root cause that you’re not even aware of. Doctors can help you identify the cause of your insomnia as well as offering tested and proven methods to avoid spending every single night staring at the ceiling for hours on end. While it might not seem like a serious enough issue to bother a doctor over, insomnia is something that can be medically treated, and there’s no need for you to suffer in silence.