Do you get enough sleep? For most of us, the answer is no. We’re busier than ever, with jam-packed schedules, over-stimulation, work, kids, you name it. While a full life is exciting, it can contribute to a lack of sleep, negatively affecting the mind and body. Reaction time slows down, and physical ailments and pain may be more frequent, as examples of what fatigue can cause.
That’s what makes Sleep Awareness Week so important. Held from March 12-18 in the U.S., it was created by the National Sleep Foundation in 1998 to “reemphasize the important connection between your sleep and your health and well-being.” The foundation shares valuable research about sleep and how to sleep better.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Depending on your age, the amount of sleep you need per night changes over the years. For example, adults ages 18-60 should get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Compare that to 14-17 hours per night for a newborn or 8-10 hours for teenagers.
Are you getting at least seven hours a night? The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report statistics claim that one in three adults do not get adequate sleep. And nearly half of Americans claim to feel sleepy during the week, anywhere from three to all seven days, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Do I Have Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that includes having trouble falling or staying asleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, when insomnia is short-term (lasting a few days or weeks), it is often brought on by stress. Some daily stress is normal, and our bodies can generally react and adapt healthily. When stress becomes overwhelming, sleep can suffer. Effective stress management may lead to a better night’s sleep.
Those who experience chronic (long-term) insomnia may have sleeping problems that can last many months. Talk to your doctor about your sleep concerns and if you think you may have insomnia.
Could Your Muscle and Joint Pain be Affected by Insufficient Sleep?
The morning after a restless night’s sleep can be more challenging physically. Getting out of bed may feel like your biggest hurdle, but aches and pains can make the day even more difficult.
How long and how well you sleep can impact inflammation in the body. If you notice increased muscle and joint aches and pains after a poor night’s sleep, you’re probably not imagining it. Not only is your pain tolerance affected by lack of sleep, but the intensity of the pain can worsen. This phenomenon may be due to changes to the nervous system when the body isn’t well rested. Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can flare up when you’ve been sleep deprived.
Insufficient sleep can also lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, increasing the chances of developing heart disease and stroke.
Immunity and Healing
Insufficient sleep has many other health risks, including compromised immunity which can lead to infections and illnesses and the body’s ability to heal.
Our bodies go into repair mode more actively while we are asleep. So if you have an injury, sore muscles, or other aches and pains, insufficient sleep can prolong healing. These seven common everyday activities may be causing your pain, and a restorative night’s sleep is an essential part of recovery.
Work-related errors and accidents, automobile accidents, exercise-related injuries, and more can be seriously compromised by lack of sleep. There is also a link between less sleep and a higher incidence of depression.
How You Can Sleep Better
When counting sheep just won’t cut it, there are better ways to help you get the shuteye you need to be at your peak.
Some of these tips include:
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time every night (even on weekends)
- Limit or avoid caffeinated beverages, especially after 2:00 PM
- Relax and unwind before it is time to go to bed (read, meditate, bathe, etc.)
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable environment
- Put tech devices away at least one hour before bedtime (smartphones, tablets, TVs, video games, etc.)
- Avoid eating a filling/heavy meal right before bedtime
- Limit/avoid alcohol consumption at nighttime (drinking may make you feel tired, but you won’t get a sound night’s sleep)
- Stay active and get exercise regularly
- Try an organic, all-natural pain relief cream like Ultimate RepairX to soothe and repair soreness, aches, and pains
- Keep your bedroom clean and uncluttered
- If you snore or have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor
Catch Some Zzzs
Daylight Saving Time starts March 12, 2023, the same day Sleep Awareness Week begins. Make it your mission to make better sleep choices to feel healthy, alert, and energized. If you still have trouble falling or staying asleep, talk with your doctor about options that may help.