Adults are supposed to receive between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Teens and adolescents should get an hour or two more than that. Despite these recommendations, most people average between 5-6 hours per night.
Although some people can subsist on this level of sleep in a healthy way, individual metabolisms may require some individuals to get up to 10 hours of sleep per night. That means adults could be functioning on a 4-hour sleep deficit every night.
You can remove feelings of fatigue with coffee, energy drinks, and high-sugar foods temporarily, but nothing satisfies more than getting the amount of sleep you need each night.
How Sleep Supports Your Health
When you go to sleep, you’re actually proceeding through four different stages of rest.
That means you head toward progressively deeper levels of sleep before reaching the stage where rapid eye movement begins. It is not unusual for someone to wake up before reaching this final step because of disturbances that occur in their environment.
Failing to go through all four cycles of sleep can disrupt your physical health. It also changes how the brain perceives your ability to get some rest.
When you don’t get enough time for sleep, then the effects of this deprivation can occur immediately. You won’t be able to handle stressful situations as well as you would with the right amount of rest. Most people see an immediate degradation of their mood stability.
Although missing a day or two isn’t critical to your health, having anything more than that can trigger or worsen a mental health disorder.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
If you consistently get less sleep each night than you should, then one of the most common outcomes is depression. The two health issues tend to work together to create ongoing health problems.
When you don’t get enough sleep at night, then the issue can trigger depression-like symptoms. A brain that tries to manage the unwanted feelings and thoughts will struggle to get back to sleep. This cycle of insomnia can lead to severe health issues, stress levels, and even eating disorders.
Anxiety disorders can develop over time when you’re not getting enough sleep as well. There are instances when depression and anxiety can surge to extreme levels, driving people to precarious positions – including suicidal thoughts.
The lack of sleep can also cause you to fall asleep in unusual places, like when you’re trying to drive to work. Microsleep can happen at any time if your rest deficit is significant, which means you could run into something while walking down the street without realizing what you were doing.
How to Improve Sleep Quality Starting Tonight
Before you concentrate on the quality of sleep that you receive, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve got enough time dedicated for rest every night. If you’re at the 5- to 6-hour level right now, then try to get seven hours tonight.
You may need to put this time into your schedule for it to be a successful experience.
Then you will want to avoid using electronics and other forms of stimulation at least 60 minutes before you plan to go to bed. If you drink coffee each day, then you’ll want to stop your caffeine consumption after lunch to avoid over-stimulation.
It helps to create a bedroom environment where it can be dark and quiet. If you struggle to fall asleep in those conditions, some white noise, like from a box fan, can be helpful for some people. Keeping the room will encourage your body temperature to drop to promote entry into the first sleep cycle faster.
Then work on falling asleep at least 20 minutes before you plan to start resting. Getting an early start on this process can help you avoid staying up late because you didn’t crawl into bed.
If you struggle with racing thoughts at night, then it can be helpful to practice relaxation techniques about 1-2 hours before you plan to go to bed. If you prefer to use yoga as a way to wind down, you’ll want to choose a program that won’t create muscle soreness for you. Meditation can be an effective way to calm your thoughts as well.
What If None of These Options Are Working for Me?
You should notice an improvement in your sleep quality in 1-2 weeks if you start implementing these ideas. If they are not working, then you might want to speak with your therapist or a doctor about what is going on in your life.
There are several options available in the world of medicine and therapy that can help you to achieve better sleep as well. If you find yourself waking up feeling like you’re out of breath, then you might want to talk about obstructive sleep apnea and sleeping with a CPAP therapy machine.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy could be helpful if you feel that your thought patterns are contributing to your issues with insomnia.
If you continue to struggle after these conversations, you might consider participating in a sleep study program. You’ll need to go to bed for a night at a clinic where they will register your brainwaves and physical behaviors while sleeping. You might have a problem with restless legs, stimulating dreams, or other forms of arousal that prematurely wake you up.
When the issue you have with sleep is a commitment to your work, then you may need to make some lifestyle changes to encourage better rest. If you stay persistent and continue trying to find a solution that will get you the rest you need, then you’ll start feeling better sooner rather than later.