OK, you caught me, I was inspired to write this article on one of my less-than-stellar nights of sleep, and rose at the wee hour of 7 a.m. (give me a break, it was a Saturday), to make some notes. But I am not alone, research shows that 70 to 100 million American adults are struggling with some form of sleep disturbance. The highest ranges are for college students and adults 40 to 59 years old.
Here’s what we need: The National Sleep Foundation states children 5 to 10 years of age need 10 to 11 hours per night, teens 10 to 17 need 8.5 to 9 hours and adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, yet 30 percent of adults report getting less than 6 hours of sleep. The CDC calls sleep insufficiency a “public epidemic.”
Why this is important? Sleep disturbance causes other life and health problems, contributing to lethargy, lack of concentration, decreased control of emotions, irritability, drowsy driving, work safety and occupational errors.
Symptoms and causes of sleep deprivation and insomnia:
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or frequently waking.
• Waking early and not refreshed.
• Snoring, sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
• Restlessness, emotional stress or racing thoughts.
• Depression, anxiety, fearfulness about the future.
OK, now what to do about it. Here are some habits to adopt or avoid:
• Create a comfortable sleep environment. Cool room, no noise, comfortable clothes and bedding.
• Institute regular bedtime and waking time, stick to it seven days a week.
• Turn off your technology; TV and computers do not entice sleep.
• Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, big meals and exercise within several hours of bedtime.
• Try relaxation exercises, noise blockers, or meditation music.
• If your problem is your bedtime partner, you may want to stick this article under his/her nose.
If these home remedies don’t cut it, it may be time to see your physician, especially for symptoms of sleep apnea or RLS. Consult a naturopathic physician for a holistic assessment of the problem or natural sleep remedies. If you are suffering from a mind you can’t turn off, increased anxiety, depression, increased life stresses and challenges that are difficult to overcome, see a therapist to help you move through these challenges.