Sleep deprivation: Are you struggling with sleeping problems that keep you from getting enough rest?
Did you get enough sleep in the past week? Can you recall the last time you woke up without an alarm feeling refreshed and not needing any caffeine to go through the day? If your answer is a “no” for either of the questions, you are not alone. Roughly 62% of adults throughout the world fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of sleep every night.
Sleeping through the night is not a guarantee to wake up refreshed and alert. Sleep is about quality, not quantity. Quality sleep means you cycle through all 4 stages at least 5 times before awakening in the morning. Each sleep cycle allows you to clear out the cobwebs in your brain from the day and detox without any distractions.
The Science of Sleep
The human body follows the circadian rhythm─a 24-hour repeating rhythm that operates as an internal clock. This biological clock is controlled by two things: external cues such as light and darkness, and internal compounds that trigger and maintain our sleep.
The following chemicals work together to keep our sleep/wake cycles in harmony:
Adenosine: slowly builds the desire for sleep throughout the day
Melatonin: produces drowsy feelings that signal your body is now ready for sleep
Cortisol: naturally triggers your body to wake up
While sleep duration can vary greatly around the world, most adults are still not getting enough shut-eye. The average person gets 6.8 hours of sleep on a weeknight, which is significantly lower than the recommended 8 hours.
Losing just one or two hours of sleep per night can have the same impact on motor and cognitive functions as going without sleep for a full day or two. Experts have long emphasized that developing good sleeping habits can help to maintain our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ongoing sleep deprivation can also cause severe, long-term health conditions, such as:
Weak immune system
High blood pressure
Fatigue and drowsiness among drivers have been identified as one of the reasons behind fatal car accidents and injuries especially driving in long and monotonous highways. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol.
For most of us, losing just one night of sleep makes us irritable, craving carbs, and gives us brain fog. It also affects us on a much deeper level when the problem becomes chronic. Research says that after just three nights of sleeping 4-5 hours, our insulin sensitivity (the hormone that controls our blood sugar levels) is lowered making us less responsive to big upswings in glucose when we eat carbs. This is the exact same process that leads to diabetes. Sleep disorder and sleep deprivation basically throw your body into a pre-diabetic state which can lead to unwanted weight gain.
4 common culprits that prevent you from getting better sleep:
1. Worry and Stress
Your stress hormone-cortisol is spiking at night. Cortisol is a major factor in your stress response. Normally it should start to rise about 3am and peak around 6-7am. Then it slowly declines throughout the day and is low at night so you can wind down and sleep soundly. If your cortisol is elevated at bedtime, you are likely to be tossing and turning in bed the entire night. This is a very common sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed.
What you can do: Try meditation/deep breathing exercise for 20 minutes at night can help switch on your parasympathetic nervous system allowing your body to fully relax for a peaceful sleep.
2. Mineral deficiency
You might be having a mineral deficiency. Most of us live a hectic and stressful lifestyle and spend 8 hours or more a day sitting or slouching over a laptop. This may lead to tight neck muscles and hip flexors. Coupling this with fast and convenient food which lacks essential relaxing minerals like magnesium, it's a recipe for disaster.
What you can do: Taking quality magnesium supplements like Magnesium Glycinate or a good Epsom salt bath will help your muscles and mind to relax for a peaceful slumber.
3. Exercising at night after 8pm
Exercise no doubt is key to maintaining a healthy body and sound mind. However timing is important, For a restful sleep, the ideal time to workout is in the morning. If that is not possible, try to keep your workout 4 hours before your bedtime so that it doesn't disrupt your natural circadian rhythm.
What you can do: Taking a warm bath or hot shower before bed will help to relax your body and prepare you for sleep. Research also shows that keeping your bedroom at a cooler temperature is better for a good night's sleep.
4. Screen time before sleep
The blue light that emits from our electronic devices lowers our master sleep hormone-melatonin. This tricks our brain into thinking it is still daytime and tells our brain that we are not ready to sleep yet, even though we know we are tired and need to go to sleep, our brain is getting the opposite message.
What you can do: Do yourself a favor. Keep your devices away at least one hour before going to bed so that your body produces adequate melatonin to fall asleep and keep you asleep. If you really need to use the device, use blue-light-blocking glasses.
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our health; it’s also one of the easiest to neglect. Don’t put yourself into sleep debt─get enough of those sweet dreams for the better of your health. However, we all had a sleepless night here and there. It’s normal to wake up not feeling 100%. But this should not be a persistent problem for anyone. If you are consistently waking up feeling exhausted, having a comprehensive evaluation by our highly trained doctor is essential to determine the root cause of your sleepless nights and figure out a solution to stop your suffering.