Almost 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a sleeping disorder. That’s over 40-million people that aren’t receiving the rest they need from their sleep. A further 20-million individuals occasionally suffer from a sleep disorder or disturbance.
Sleep disorders ruin the quality of life of affected individuals. If you’ve ever experienced a bad night’s sleep, the chances are that you’ve been less alert on your drive to the office the following day. Feelings of fatigue result in struggling to think and perform at work. All you want to do is take an afternoon nap.
The Three Types of Sleeping Disorders
Insomnia – The inability to fall asleep. This disorder comes from an overactive mind. It's the result of anxiety or autoimmune diseases like adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance.
Sleep apnea – A condition that disrupts the airways. This disorder leads to incorrect breathing and frequent waking.
Restless legs syndrome – A disorder where individuals experience cramps or stimulation of the legs. They feel the constant urge to move their lower limbs.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Sleep is an understudied area of biology. However, sleep experts believe that anything less than 8-hours of sleep per night is a health risk. Over-sleeping is detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Dr. Matthew Walker is the world’s leading medical authority on sleep. He’s studied its effects on our physical and mental well-being for over two decades. His research provides insight into the health benefits and risks associated with sleep, and what we can do to improve the quality and therapeutic value of our time between the sheets.
The Health Risks Associated with Not Getting Enough Sleep
Failing to get the recommended 8-hours of sleep produces a wide range of adverse health disorders and disease. A lack of sleep affects both or physiological and psychological state.
Receiving less than 8-hours of sleep a night can jeopardize your mental health. Studies show that individuals who obtain less than 4-hours of sleep, expose themselves to the onset of mental illness. High-anxiety is a common disorder that accompanies inefficient sleep.
Other mental illnesses resulting from less than 8-hours of sleep include Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A lack of sleep affects cognitive processes. As we sleep, the brain clears neural pathways of toxins accumulated during the day. Failure to restore these pathways results in inefficient thinking and “brain fog.”
A lack of sufficient sleep also affects biological functions in the body. People who receive less than 8-hours are more likely to experience cardiovascular issues such as coronary and peripheral arterial disease. These cardiovascular issues expose individuals to the higher risk of heart attack.
Diabetes and obesity are common physiological diseases that develop as a result of less than 8-hours of sleep. The body distributes energy while we sleep to cover the caloric needs of metabolic function.
Sleep Hygiene – How to Improve Sleep
The best way to enhance sleep quality is to adjust your sleep hygiene. This term describes the behavior and habits surrounding the period before during and after sleep.
Reduce consumption of stimulants during the day and ensure that you don’t use any in the 8-hours before retiring to bed. Limit alcohol intake as it causes you to wake up at night. Eat early and reduce digestive stress before sleep.
Stretch and meditate an hour before you go to bed. Draw a hot bath before you go to bed, and relax with a cup of herbal tea – chamomile works best. Create an optimal sleep environment using a blackout curtain and a sleeping mask to achieve quality sleep.
The Final Thought – Pharmaceutical and OTC Sleep Aids
Sleep aids offer relief to individuals experiencing sleeping disorders. However, they are a temporary solution. Improve your sleep hygiene to enhance your sleep.