Our ever-working, ever-socializing society has altered what we consider a normal sleep routine. Long work hours and demanding jobs keep us getting up early and staying late at the office. Challenging and competitive college programs make “all nighters” a common occurrence with today’s college students. The “work hard, play hard” attitude means late-night social commitments or simply staying up late watching TV. Then after routinely over-extending ourselves, caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and medications are widely relied upon just to get through the next day.
This new “normal” of dysfunctional sleep patterns is heavily encouraged by society. However, studies have shown that insufficient sleep can increase the severity of memory loss, obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and so it is really no surprise that these are equally as common problems many people face.
Sleep is a vitally important component to enhancing or maintaining your health. This period of rest is when your body recharges and heals. Many brain and bodily functions only occur at night and/or depend on a consistent nighttime schedule for adequate hormone regulation. Any interruption to a healthy sleep schedule can significantly interfere with these processes and lead you down the road to impaired health.
6 signs that you may have a dysfunctional sleep pattern:
- You do not get a consistent number of hours of sleep from night to night.
- You do not go to bed at the same time or within 1 hour of that time every night.
- You constantly hit snooze each morning before reluctantly getting out of bed.
- You find yourself napping, needing to nap, or relying on coffee and/or energy drinks frequently in the afternoon.
- You notice that you have difficulty regulating your blood sugar level even though you are controlling your food choices and portions.
- Your mental focus and productivity is off, especially in the late morning or afternoon.
Despite how common dysfunctional sleep is, it is in no way normal. NORMAL sleep habits are what is biologically appropriate for YOU. This means that the amount of sleep needed is highly specific to the individual based on age, sex, and overall health status. Determining what this is for you is often trial and error, so that once you have improved your sleep hygiene, you will be better able to tell if the amount of sleep you’re getting is enough.
5 tips for improving your sleep hygiene:
- Allow yourself time to adjust: Most of us cannot change the time we need to wake up, so begin by moving up your bedtime 30 minutes at a time.
- Watch your afternoon snack and beverage choices: Avoid carbohydrate-heavy meals and sugary snacks and limit caffeinated beverages and energy drinks, especially after 2pm.
- Set a sleep schedule: Know when you need to be in bed and what time you are waking. Then stick to it.
- Relax before bed nightly: What helps you relax? Whether that’s reading, taking a bath, yoga, or meditation, make time to do so before bed. However, avoid watching TV, using the computer, or using backlit handheld devices as these are stimulating and the light interferes with readying your mind and body for sleep.
- Prepare you room for sleep: Darken the room and shut the door. Sleeping in cooler temperature helps many, so try lowering your thermostat 2 degrees. Use a sound machine if desired, but avoid music.
If you still have trouble adjusting or maintaining your sleep routine after implementing these changes, you may have some work to do in other areas. Sometimes it’s high stress levels or another underlying health problem that is interfering with your sleep. Similarly, chronic pain often makes getting to sleep and staying asleep difficult. Check in with your chiropractor or nutritionist to see what other healthy lifestyle changes could benefit your overall health and lead to better sleep.
Remember sleep is vitally important to your overall health. Once you find YOUR normal for adequate sleep you will see tremendous improvements in mood, mental focus and cognitive functioning, your ability to maintain a healthy weight, among many other things.
Do you need help getting your health back on track? Schedule your Complimentary Consultation with Dr. Rana Slatton, your Roswell Chiropractor, today!