The Painful Truth about sleeplessness and how to finally get a good night's rest.

Can’t Sleep?

Has sleep become elusive? Are you worried that you’re not getting enough sleep? Do you have problems falling asleep? Staying asleep?

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not living your best life. You’re also not alone. According to a study by Consumer Reports, approximately 164 million Americans (that’s 64%) struggle with sleep issues – and it’s taking a serious toll on their lives and the lives of those around them.

For some, a lack of sleep is just an occasional annoyance but for many it’s a frequent battle that frustrates and disappoints. And when sleeplessness goes on long enough, it can leave you feeling desperate for a solution.

What Is Sleeplessness Stealing From Your Life?

Sleeplessness is a thief! Not only does it rob you of what should be a normal, nightly break from the stress of the day, but it also limits what you can enjoy doing the next day. People who don’t sleep well generally lack energy or motivation to do anything active – physically or mentally.

How is lack of sleep limiting you? Do you love to travel, work out, hike or ride bikes? What kinds of adventures do you enjoy? Does your lack of sleep prevent you from fully enjoying these things? Or does your lack of sleep completely prevent you from doing things you would normally look forward to?

If you find yourself in a place where it’s hard to imagine enjoying the parts of life you once did because you’re too tired, and if sleep is the culprit, there is hope. We’re going to tell you about that in just a minute, but first let’s cover the basics of sleep.

What Is Sleep And Why Do We Need It?

So, what is sleep and why is it so upsetting when we don’t get enough? Merriam Webster defines Sleep as:

“The natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored”

Our bodies are designed to “know” when it’s time to sleep based on our Circadian rhythm. The Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour pattern that is in part, influenced by our environment. It affects our sleep patterns by releasing certain hormones when it is time for our bodies to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. When our rhythm is working well, we feel tired when it gets dark and we wake up to the light each morning. When our Circadian rhythm is off, we can experience sleeplessness.

We need sleep for a variety of reasons. Among them…

  • Sleep gives our bodies a time to recover from the wear and tear that naturally occurs over the course of each day.
  • Sleep gives our brains the opportunity to organize and consolidate memories which makes it much easier to learn when we’re awake.
  • It is also during sleep that the body flushes away toxins that have accumulated in the brain while we’re awake.
  • And sleep plays an important role in keeping you healthy and free from infection. While you sleep, your body produces infection fighting proteins called cytokines. Without cytokines, our bodies will not respond as needed to fight disease and infection.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

When you don’t get enough sleep your brain and body can’t function well. It’s as simple as that. After a sleepless night you’re naturally going to feel tired. You might be short-tempered with your kids or co-workers. You may lack focus and drive. And, you may have trouble remembering simple things like names or where you left your keys. The day after a sleepless night is rarely a good day!

On the day after a sleepless night…

  • You may lack focus making it difficult complete tasks.
  • Your emotions may be harder to control, stress becomes intensified and it may become hard to deal with upsetting situations.
  • You’ll struggle with your weight. Sleeping helps regulate hormones related to appetite, such as ghrelin (which makes you feel hungry) and leptin (which makes you feel full).
  • You’ll get sick more often. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system loses effectiveness, so colds and flus are more difficult to fend off. And worse, long term, lack of proper sleep and good quality sleep increases the risk of multiple health issues.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Your sleep needs will vary throughout your life and are affected by your age, lifestyle and health. In a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, the following basic guidelines were reported:

  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Interestingly, most people only sleep 6 ½ to 7 hours per night which according to this study is below or just barely reaching the optimum range. If you’re struggling with sleep, you’d probably do just about anything to get 6 or 7 hours of sleep!

Ultimately, the amount of sleep we need falls within a range between 6 ½ and 9 hours per night.

But how much sleep do YOU personally need to be healthy and to live an active, engaged life? If you answer No to any of the following questions you likely need more sleep than you’re getting.

  • Do you generally wake up feeling refreshed?
  • Do you feel alert and energized during the day?
  • Do you have good concentration and focus?
  • Do you stay healthy during cold and flu seasons?
  • Are you generally happy?

 

The Problems With Prescription Sleep Meds

When sleep becomes a big enough problem, many Americans head straight to the doctor’s office for prescription sleep drugs. Unfortunately, prescription sleep drugs are not the solution you might expect. Only one third of those who try prescription sleep medications say that they experienced any improvement with their sleep. On top of that, the side-effects of prescription sleep drugs can cause even more serious issues than the one they claim to fix!

Prescription sleep medications like Ambien® or Lunesta® may be limited in their effectiveness at best and at worse they could even be addictive. Incredibly, 60% of people who try prescription sleep medications experience serious side effects the next day including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness

And 3% admit to falling asleep while they’re driving!

Prescription sleep medications can also cause heartburn, changes in bowel movements and increased risk of overdose.

 

A Quick Sleep Summary

  • Lack of sleep is very common and cause serious issues in the lives of those affected.
  • Sleeplessness is a thief, stealing our ability to function with energy and focus.
  • When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to be tired during the day and we can be easily frustrated by family, friends and co-workers.
  • We’re also more likely to be hungry and unsatisfied by normal amounts of food so we tend to gain weight when we don’t sleep.
  • Sleep gives our bodies a time to recover from the wear and tear that naturally occurs over the course of each day.
  • Sleep gives our brains the opportunity to organize and consolidate memories which makes it much easier to learn when we’re awake.
  • It is also during sleep that the body flushes away toxins that have accumulated in the brain while we’re awake.
  • Sleep plays an important role in keeping you healthy and free from infection. While you sleep, your body produces infection fighting proteins called cytokines. Without cytokines, our bodies will not respond as needed to fight disease and infection.
  • Serious long-term health issues can be partially attributed to sleep issues including, Hypertension, Heart Attack & Stroke, Weight Gain & Obesity, Diabetes, Depression & Anxiety, Faulty Brain Function, Memory Loss, Immune System Deficiency, Decreased Fertility and Psychiatric Disorders.
  • Depending on our age and other factors, we generally need somewhere between 6 ½ and 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Prescription sleep drugs may not be the solution you might expect. They may only be somewhat effective, they may have unpleasant side-effects, and they may come with the risk of overdose and addiction.