Sleep is becoming a rationed commodity. It's what we do when we have nothing else to do. Our jobs, social activities, sports, even late night TV all seem to come first. Sometimes we don't sleep until we're just too exhausted to do anything else.
Yet, the importance of sleep cannot be denied, both to physical and mental well being. A tired person is never at his best. He walks around in a semi-daze, not performing well at work, not enjoying social activities, not really living, but merely existing. In fact, he can be downright dangerous. Many accidents, on the job, in the home, or in the car, occur because of sleep deprivation.
So many things can disrupt our sleep without the added pressure of any of the above causes.
Causes of sleep deprivation and what to do about them
- Noise: The crying baby in the next-door apartment. The man with the drums right above you, with the loud boom BOOM boom that seems to go right through you. All-night parties, barking dogs, the rumble of traffic and horns blowing. When it's difficult to sleep, even the sound of the furnace or the fridge can keep you awake.
- Suggestions: If the noise continues night after night, it might be time to consider a move, if not out of your house or apartment, at least into a different room, further away from the noise. Buy earplugs. Soft music or white noise can drown out some of the noise.
- Temperature: If your room is too hot or too cold, again it will be difficult to sleep.
- Suggestions: This problem is usually easily remedied. Thermostat up or down. Windows open or closed. Invest in an air conditioner if you don't have one.
Other problems, however, may not be so easy to solve. These include illness, aches and pains, heartburn and other digestive complaints. Even obesity, a growing problem in the western world, can disrupt sleep.
We mustn't overlook sleep disorders, yours or your partner's. Loud snoring, sleep apnea, and, of course, insomnia when it becomes so difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you think a sleep disorder, either yours or your room mate's, is at the basis of your disrupted sleep, seek help and advice from your physician.
The list goes on. Stress, depression. Even feeling a bit hungry or thirsty can cause you to be restless. Don't just lie there. At least these two problems are easily remedied. Worried about whether or not you locked the door or turned off the coffee machine? Get up and check.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Take a look at your own life. Are you getting sufficient rest? Do you feel at your best in the morning? If not, take a close look at your lifestyle. Are you overdoing work or play? Are you rationing sleep and only using it as a last resort?
Don't shortchange yourself, your loved ones, or the people you work with. Cut back on other things and put sleep first.