Importance of sleep
Sleep is essential for your health and well being, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. For example, surveys conducted by the NSF reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month - with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more. Furthermore, 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.
How environment and behavior affect a person’s sleep
Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleeping difficulties, according to sleep experts. Common triggers include school- or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem and a serious illness or death in the family. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short-term sleep problems such as insomnia aren't managed properly from the beginning, they can persist long after the original stress has passed.
Drinking alcohol or beverages containing caffeine in the afternoon or evening, exercising close to bedtime, following an irregular morning and nighttime schedule, and working or doing other mentally intense activities right before or after getting into bed can disrupt sleep.
Traveling also disrupts sleep, especially jet lag and traveling across several time zones. This can upset your biological or “circadian” rhythms.
Environmental factors such as a room that's too hot or cold, too noisy or too brightly lit can be a barrier to sound sleep. And interruptions from children or other family members can also disrupt sleep. Other influences to pay attention to are the comfort and size of your bed and the habits of your sleep partner. If you have to lie beside someone who has different sleep preferences, snores, can't fall or stay asleep, or has other sleep difficulties, it often becomes your problem too!
Having a 24/7 lifestyle can also interrupt regular sleep patterns: the global economy that includes round the clock industries working to beat the competition; widespread use of nonstop automated systems to communicate and an increase in shift work makes for sleeping at regular times difficult.
According to leading sleep researchers, there are techniques to combat common sleep problems:
-Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
-Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
-Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
-Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
-Get regular exercise
-Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
-Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
-Try and wake up without an alarm clock
-Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep
Being well organized for the next day will help you sleep better and sounder.
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