If you’ve having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, the effect can go far beyond feeling a little tired the next day. Adequate sleep is vital to your physical and cognitive health, and a lack of sleep can cause a variety of problems in many areas of your life.
In this blog, the board-certified physicians at eos sleep will explain the problems that a lack of sleep can cause and provide helpful at-home tips that can help you get a better night’s rest.
What problems can a lack of sleep cause?
A lack of sleep can cause the following:
- Increased risk of workplace accidents
- Increased risk of auto accidents. Drowsy driving may reduce your reaction time as much as drunk driving does and is estimated to cause approximately 100,000 auto accidents a year.
- Reduced ability to concentrate, learn, and problem solve
- Increased risk for chronic health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and depression
How can you get a better night’s sleep?
Some easy, at-home tips for better sleeping include the following:
- Make your environment comfortable – If your mattress has seen better days, replace it with a newer model. Having comfortable pillows and covers can also help. Room-darkening shades can reduce the amount of outside light that comes into your bedroom, and if you share a bed with a pet or child, they may need to be placed in another room.
- Establish a consistent schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. This will help your body establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Getting up late will make you more likely to stay up late or have trouble falling asleep, and before you know it, you’ll be struggling to get up on Monday morning.
- Create a bedtime routine – If you establish a bedtime routine, your body will start to associate these activities with rest. Just make sure they’re relaxing, so instead of watching the TV news, for example, try taking a warm bath, writing in a journal, or reading a book.
- Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime – Don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks close to bedtime, since they can disrupt your rest. Look out for sources of caffeine that you may not suspect, such as chocolate and some pain relievers. A big meal shortly before bedtime can also keep you up and cause acid reflux or heartburn. And it’s best to limit fluids before bed, so you can avoid waking up to use the restroom.
- Choose a snack that promotes rest – About an hour before bedtime, choose a light snack that will help promote a restful night. A combination of carbohydrates and calcium or a protein that contains tryptophan can help you feel calm, making it easier to fall asleep. Try fruit and low-fat yogurt, banana with peanut butter, or a piece of whole-grain toast with a little low-fat turkey or cheese.
- Stop smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant that can cause insomnia. And you may also experience nicotine withdrawal during the night, which may further hinder your rest.
- Avoid taking naps – Avoid naps if you can, and if you find you just can’t make it through the day without one, make it short. A nap shouldn’t last more than an hour and shouldn’t start after 3 p.m.
- Exercise early in the day – Strenuous exercise can keep you awake if you do it in the evenings, but exercise in general can help promote good rest. Exercise earlier in the day, or choose a relaxing form of yoga.
- Keep your bedroom cool – Bodies generally sleep better at cooler temperatures. In addition to keeping your room at a cool temperature, try cooling mattress pads or pillows.
- Power down your devices early – Turn off your TV, cell phone, and tablet at least an hour before you go to bed. The blue light emitted by these devices can suppress melatonin, a hormone that helps you relax.
- Find ways to reduce stress – If you lie awake at night as your mind races with worries, try to find healthy ways to reduce stress. Meditation, yoga, spending time with friends, and writing down your worries with the intent of setting them aside can all be helpful.
- Mask annoying noises – If the neighbor’s dog or traffic noises are keeping you awake, mask the noise with a fan or white noise app or machine.
- Review your medications – Some common medications – such as beta-blockers and some antidepressants – can cause insomnia. Ask your doctor about the effect your medications and supplements may be having.
If home remedies aren’t successful, make an appointment with eos sleep. We can help determine if an underlying cause – such as sleep apnea – is causing your difficulties and can recommend effective treatments. Contact us today!