Are You Sleep Deprived? Here’s How to Get the Rest You Need
If you feel tired all day long, or you find yourself saying, “I’m exhausted,” when people ask you how you’re doing, then you are probably sleep-deprived. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 3 adult Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. That means one-third of America’s adult population is losing productivity, increasing their risk of health problems, and increasing their risk of accidents.
The truth is, most of us want to sleep more. We may actually try to get the rest we need, only to have our bodies rebel. Or we may feel like we’ve tried everything and nothing actually helps us feel any better. The key, it seems, is figuring out what works for you. There are always more things you can try.
Sleep Deprived? Me?
Even if you don’t feel tired, or you’ve gotten used to the feeling, you could suffer from sleep deprivation. One way to know is to have a friend evaluate how tired you look. As it turns out, people are pretty accurate when it comes to knowing who is and is not tired, just by looking at someone’s face. Common symptoms of sleepiness, like droopy eyes and slow reactions, are actually good predictors of tiredness.
Easy Ways to Sleep Better
If you know you’re sleep deprived or you think you might be, there are usually some straightforward steps you can take to help yourself get more rest.
- Prioritize sleep. When you’re busy, it’s easy to put tasks ahead of sleep. However, sleep will help you do those tasks better. Make sure you set aside at least 7 hours for sleep every night. Don’t forget to add however long it takes you to fall asleep into your routine as well.
- Visit your doctor. If you are more tired than you think you should be, it’s time for a chat with your MD. You may have an underlying condition, like sleep apnea, that makes it harder for you to get the rest you need. These conditions can cause lower quality sleep, too, so you may be in bed for enough hours but still feel tired.
- Think about your mattress. If your bed is old or uncomfortable, it may be contributing to your sleep struggles. Sure, a new bed is an investment, but if it makes you feel better every day it’s probably worth it. Most mattress manufacturers will let you try their bed for a while, so you can see if it helps. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out some mattress reviews and look for beds that are a good fit for your preferred sleeping position, firmness, and price range.
- Establish a bedtime routine. When you do the same things before bed every night, you are training your body to use certain cues as indicators that it’s time to rest. Set up a routine you love, so it won’t be hard to follow it every evening. Try to avoid eating sugary foods, using a backlit screen, or exercising right before bed. Your body’s circadian rhythm, its internal clock, can mistake those activities as signs that it’s time to begin your day instead of end it.
Being tired can make you miserable, and it definitely makes every day harder. Reduce or eliminate the effects of sleep deprivation on your life by doing whatever it takes to get more - and better - rest. You’ll thank yourself when you never have to say, “I’m exhausted,” again!