According to several different studies over the years, it is estimated that 88% of people between the ages of 18 and 55 are not getting the recommended amount of sleep that they need. While how much sleep you need typically depends on age, it is suggested that we get anywhere from 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night on average. Sleep deprivation not only leaves you feeling fatigued and moody the next day, but it can also result in an increased risk of health problems, including respiratory disease, weight gain, and even type 2 diabetes.
As for why you might not be getting enough sleep, there are many contributing factors that can play a role. For example, chronic insomnia is a very real condition that affects as many as 3.3 million Canadians and is defined as disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts as many as three months at a time. Insomnia can be caused by a number of things, such as environmental changes, working unusual shifts, and certain health conditions. Insomnia can oftentimes be treated through the practice of different relaxation techniques as well as bio-feedback therapy, though in some cases patients may require the use of medications to assist them in getting adequate sleep.
If you’re someone who is stressed and/or feeling anxious, this can also contribute to poor sleep as well as wreak havoc on your health in a number of other ways, including increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. If you’re feeling stressed and/or anxious about something, it’s good to speak with someone you trust – such as a friend, family member or healthcare professional – about what’s bothering you. You may also need medication to help relieve your anxiety, which can also help you get a better night’s rest.
Believe it or not, one of the most common causes as to why you might be having difficulty getting to sleep at night could also be due to the environment that you’re sleeping in – for example, your bedroom. Most people need total darkness to be able to fall asleep, and even the tiniest amount of light can be problematic to some. This means avoiding leaving bright lights on, and if you can, try purchasing blackout curtains as these can also help you fall asleep quicker.
Speaking of your environment, you may also find it more difficult to fall asleep during warmer weather – especially during summer months. Ideally, the best temperature for sleeping is said to be between 60 and 67 degrees – and if you’re someone who happens to live in an air-conditioned home then sleep is not likely something you have to worry about when the weather is warmer. However, not all homes and/or apartment buildings (especially those that are older) are equipped with A/C, which means you’re probably used to spending the night tossing and turning because you simply find it too hot to fall asleep. If air conditioning isn’t something you have, one alternative is to purchase an oscillating fan. Down pillows are also recommended as they tend to trap less heat, as do open-cell foam mattresses as opposed to classic foam mattress, which can cause the body to overheat and lead to an uncomfortable sleep at night.
Using pillows and mattresses with adequate air circulation aren’t the only things you need to look for, as the type of pillow and mattress you’re sleeping on could also be causing things like neck and back pain, which can also prevent you from getting a proper sleep and may even put you at risk of spine problems in the future. To help keep your spine straight, memory foam pillows are recommended, and mattresses should be medium-firm to also help keep your spine, head, neck and shoulders straight. It’s also a good idea to replace your mattress every 10 years.
Noise is another common sleep disruptor, whether it be having noisy neighbours, living in an area of high-traffic, or being awoken by your kids. If noise is something you find keeps you awake, one solution is to purchase ear plugs – and, depending on things like outside construction, you may even want to consider soundproofing your home.