There are so many distractions keeping us awake nowadays. From stress at work to the endless notifications on our handheld devices, more and more people today spend less time getting healthy, restorative sleep than previously recorded. In fact, 35.2% of American adults aren’t getting enough sleep every day.
When a lack of recuperative rest goes unaddressed, it can lead to sleep debt and a slew of mental and physical health effects along the way. It can even impact performance at work and, therefore, a person’s career and long-term finance goals. Below, we’ll go over what sleep debt is, the problems it can cause and ways to help you get better sleep.
What is sleep debt? Put simply, it refers to the difference in the amount of sleep people should be getting and the amount they actually get. This difference is cumulative, which means the less sleep people get over time, the more sleep debt they have in total. There are many potential consequences of losing sleep. Commonly reported symptoms include feeling tired throughout the day and having trouble staying focused and efficient. This occurs as sleep deprivation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information as well as store it for long- and short-term memory.
People who have significant sleep deprivation are also at a higher risk for certain health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart disease. These detriments stem from the fact that good-quality sleep helps to heal and repair the heart and blood vessels throughout the body. Being deprived of sleep continuously is also linked to impaired immune function and increased risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Although modern life makes it difficult, there are ways to make a healthy change and prioritize better sleep. One of the first things you may need to change is your bed. If you’ve noticed you toss and turn all night, it could be due to an uncomfortable or unsuitable bed. Fortunately, there is a wide range of affordable mattress solutions available these days. Consider shopping around for a new mattress that fits your desired firmness or softness and other features — such as temperature control — to help make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Another way to improve sleep is to optimize your sleeping environment. Proper ventilation, temperature, light level and other such factors are critical for getting sound sleep. Going forward, be sure to keep noise and light to a minimum, lower the temperature setting, and avoid having distractions in the bedroom — such as a TV.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started on erasing your sleep debt. If you would like further examples, please check out the accompanying resource.
Author bio: Troy Simmons is General Manager at Bel Furniture, a leading furniture and mattress retailer. Simmons is a local Texan who has over 20 years of experience in the furniture business.