The following is a post by guest blogger, Hannah Anderson of Via Christi Sleep Services.
Sleep often becomes the first casualty of a busy lifestyle; we trade sleep time for work or play time. In a 24/7 world in which productivity is king, the consequences of sleep deprivation can be far reaching. A truly restful, battery-charging slumber requires seven to nine hours of sleep, but the average American is only sleeping 6 ½ hours per night.
Much like credit card debt, sleep deprivation accumulates and becomes increasingly problematic. In the short term, sleep deprivation causes decreased cognitive function, memory problems, an increase in automobile accidents, and poor quality of life. In the long term, chronic sleep loss can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, depression, mental impairment and stroke.
Luckily, there are changes you can begin today that may improve your quality of sleep.
- Cut off all caffeine four to six hours before bedtime..
- Stress and alcohol wreak havoc on sleep, so try to allow for “de-stress” time before going to bed — minus the nightcap.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable, dark and quiet.
- Avoid napping during the day.
- Try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid overeating.
- Eat foods that may help.
- Milk contains tryptophan, a sleep-promoting substance.
- Other foods include tuna, halibut, pumpkin, artichokes, avocados, almonds, eggs, bok choy, peaches, walnuts, apricots, oats, asparagus, potatoes, buckwheat and bananas.
In many cases, sleep deprivation is a symptom of a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea — a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep due to blocked airways. The most noticeable sign is snoring.
Anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea, although it most commonly affects middle-aged and older adults and those overweight. Other symptoms include: excessive daytime sleepiness, observed episodes of breathing cessation, abrupt awakenings, dry mouth, morning headache, insomnia and difficult-to-control high blood pressure.
If you are experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, it may be time to consult a physician and to consider undergoing a sleep study.