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Health Risks Linked to Chronic Sleep Deprivation

Today, about 20% of Americans report that they get less than 6 hours of sleep on average, and the number of Americans that report that they get 8 hours or more has significantly decreased. (www.webMD.com) A growing list of health risks including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked with chronic sleep deprivation.


If you are not getting enough sleep, you can create an environment and adopt sleep habits that encourage a more restful night and lower the incidence of developing health risks.


1. Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day. This strengthens your sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep more easily at night.


2. Don't eat or drink large amounts before bedtime. Eat a light dinner at least two hours before sleeping. Drinking too much liquid can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night for trips to the bathroom.


3. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol in the evening. These are stimulants that can keep you awake.


4. Exercise regularly. Regular daily exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, performed more than 4 hours before going to bed, can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.

5. Create a sleep environment. Remove computers, televisions and any work related activities from the bedroom.


6. Sleep primarily at night. Avoid daytime naps and unwind for at least one hour prior to going to bed.


7. Choose a comfortable mattress and pillow. Features of a good bed are subjective and differ for each person. Make sure you have a bed that's comfortable.


8. Start a relaxing bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down. This may include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music


9. Go to bed when you're tired and turn out the lights. If you don't fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else that is relaxing. Don't agonize over falling asleep. The stress will only prevent sleep.


10. Use sleeping pills only as a last resort. Check with your doctor before taking any sleep medications. He or she can make sure the sleeping pill won't interact with your other medications or with an existing medical condition.

 

Identifying and treating the cause of your sleep deprivation can help get you back on the road to a good night's sleep. By making sure you get enough sleep, you're improving your quality of life!!

References: www.mayoclinic.com, www.sleepfoundation.org, www.webmd.com