What’s Your Sleep Debt?

January 19th, 2010

I was reading today about our National Debt.  As of today it is at $12 Trillion and growing at about $100k each second it seemed like.  I was refreshing the “Debt Clock” each second and it looked like it was increasing by about that much.

We’ve heard how the majority of Americans tend to overspend by maximizing their credit card limits, borrowing more than they can handle, thus living paycheck to paycheck.  I guess our government isn’t any better when it comes to finances.

I wonder if this recession will make us more conservative about how we spend our money or if we will resort back to our old ways.  Time as always will tell.

Speaking of the National Debt, I also got to think about our Sleep Debt.  In our fast-paced world, getting a good amount of sleep is becoming an epidemic.  I remember waking up at 6am then going to bed at 2 or 3am.  Simply getting by with 3-4hrs of sleep because I was so busy trying to get this business off the ground.

Now, I get a few more hours but not what it’s really suggested.  I tend to go to sleep at midnight and wake up around 6am.  That’s only 6hrs which seems to be good for me but then again I sleep on a very nice mattress, don’t have any distractions in my bedroom like a tv, and I always play some relaxing music to help me go to sleep.

Here’s an article I found online regarding “Sleep Debt” and what you can do to help get the most out of your sleeping time.  Enjoy!

Fall Asleep and Sleep Better All Night

People are paying the price with grumpy and irritable attitudes and difficulty remembering things. If you don’t get enough sleep you incur a “sleep debt” that may make you sleepy in the daytime when you should be wide awake and alert. You may feel tired and depressed.

It can even be dangerous as your body tries to catch up on missed sleep. Your judgment can be impaired and your reaction time slowed. Not enough sleep over time weakens your immune system, making you susceptible to colds and flu.

There is growing evidence that a lack of sleep increases your risk of developing diabetes. If you are a diabetic, not getting enough sleep has added detriments to your health. Your blood sugars will fluctuate more during the night, resulting in poorer A1C averages that are more difficult to correct or control. Trouble sleeping affects your general attitude, which is vital to your daily diabetes treatment.

How much sleep should you get? It varies from person to person. Your age and life circumstances, stress, your physical condition and so on affect how much sleep you need. Generally speaking, you should have from seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You’ll know you’re not getting enough sleep if you experience the grumpiness and sleepiness of “sleep debt” during the day.

Here are some ways to fall asleep. Some or all of them may help you to sleep better through the night.

1 — Your Bedroom Is For Sleeping

Your bedroom should not be your home office if you can possibly help it. It should not be your TV-watching room or computer room. Leave all these things for other areas of your home.

For a good night’s sleep the bedroom should be dark and quiet. Use blackout drapes or curtains to keep the light out. Place dim night lights where you’ll need them should you have to get up during the night to use the bathroom. Do not turn on the light in the bathroom until morning. Use the night light at night.

Keep the bedroom cool, between 60 and 70 degrees, and ventilated. Use a fan if necessary to keep the air moving, but not blowing across the bed. If the air is dry, use a humidifier as well.

Some people fall asleep better with some background sound. “Sound”, not noise. Some relaxing music set with a timer (set to an hour or less) may help. A sound machine with sounds of a waterfall or rain or “white noise” can help some people sleep better during the night.

2 — Your Bed Is For Sleeping

Don’t work in bed, don’t watch TV in bed, don’t argue with your spouse in bed. Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy, nothing else.

Make sure you use a mattress that is large enough for freedom of movement and firm or soft enough (depending on your needs). You can use a two to four inch foam topper to make it softer — get the “contour memory” type, not the sponge rubber type.

Use comfortable sheets that are not rough or scratchy. A higher count of thread such as 800 count is better. Use flannel or even fleece sheets during winter months. Use layered blankets as necessary, in various thicknesses and weights, again according to your preferences and how well you sleep.

Good pillows are mostly a matter of what you prefer. It’s a good idea to have two pillows, a soft one where you will rest your head and a firmer one if needed for support. Cover your pillows with a soft pillow case that won’t scratch or irritate.

You will probably want a bed table. Use a lamp with no higher than a 40-watt bulb. If you have an electric clock or clock radio turn the light to the dimmest setting. It’s harder to sleep if you dread the sudden jolt of a jarring alarm. Any alarm that you have to wake you in the morning should not be blaring or rude, but beep with gradual increases in volume.

Other things on your bed table might be a phone and a half-full glass of water (just out of reach of accidents). You may also want some antacids and for the diabetic, a glucose test kit. Another item might be some light reading material — but nothing heavy or stimulating.

3 — Prepare Yourself for Sleeping

To fall asleep quickly and sleep better through the night, here are a few simple do’s and don’ts.

Do try to make bedtime the same every night. Routine is good for your biological “sleep clock”.

Limit nap time during the day to half an hour or less. A brief nap can be a pick-me-up, but too long of a nap will rob you of a good night’s quality sleep.

Don’t drink an alcohol “nightcap”. It may help you fall asleep but it will make your sleep restless. Don’t drink any caffeine products after lunch — coffee, cola, etc. — for obvious reasons.

Don’t go to bed on a full stomach. Dinner should be at least two hours before bedtime. A light snack may help you sleep, however, such as half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich or a glass of warm milk.

Don’t take your concerns about tomorrow with you to bed. If you need to remember a to-do list or something important, write it down so you can forget about it during the night and pick it up the next day where you left off.

Do take a warm bath. Scented bath oil or bubbles might also help you relax. Make sure the bathroom is warm, with a rug and a soft warm towel nearby when you get out.

Do some stretching exercises before bed. Don’t do strenuous exercising that will step up your heart rate or metabolism, just stretch to increase blood flow and help your muscles relax.

If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar and take any medications as directed by your doctor. Visit the bathroom before you get in bed.

Do get up and out of bed if you can’t sleep. The bed is for sleeping, not laying there awake. Read some light material or have a light snack. If it’s four or five o’clock in the morning, stay up for the day. You’ve probably had enough sleep for that night.

Do get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekends. Turn on the lights when you get up. Your body uses light and dark as guides for your “sleep clock”. Setting a routine will help your body know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to get up.

Finally, if these guidelines don’t help, do not rely on over-the-counter remedies. See your doctor about sleep aids and treatments for insomnia.

One Response to “What’s Your Sleep Debt?”

  1. Sandra says:

    wow this was an amazing and informative blog. Just to let you know, I’m printing this out! I cherish my sleep and won’t let anything get in it’s way 😉

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