Sleep is a beautiful thing. It's what the weekends were made for, right? Unfortunately, getting enough sleep is difficult to come by, both in college and when you're out in the working world. Our culture and society are so fast-paced that we often end up sacrificing our nightly recharge for the sake of answering just one more hour's worth of email.
There were so many nights when I'd go to bed early, but then spend the whole night sleeping lightly. The stress from exams, finals, and deadlines did a number on my hours of precious shut-eye. There's a saying that you have four priorities in college: sleep, food, homework, and socialization. The decision you have is which three to pick. I chose sleep, food, and homework, but gave up having a life while I was in college. Others decided to focus on homework, sleep, and socialization but ended up eating from the campus dining center. Mystery meat special, anyone?
Now that I'm out of college, I have a little more time to take care of myself and my beauty sleep. I'm figuring out what my nighttime routine is going to be now that I have energy in my life and fewer priorities. So for all you moms, students, and busy ladies out there, we've got some tips for you on what sleep deprivation is, how it affects you, and three sure ways to know if you're getting enough sleep.
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Let's start here. Medical News Today says that sleep deprivation “is when an individual gets less sleep than needed to feel awake and alert.” They recommend that adults over the age of 18 get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. That 7-hour minimum is something 40% Americans don't get, according to Medical News Today stats.
Back when I was in school, I tried my best to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, nine if I could. I could function on 7 hours of sleep, but I was pretty much on autopilot and had to have a latte in my hand within one hour of waking up if I was going to get through the rest of the day. It wasn't pretty.
The symptoms of sleep deprivation range anywhere from fatigue and moodiness to yawning and forgetfulness. In other words, get your beauty sleep. It's one of the most important and best things that you can do for your body and mental health.
Ways to Get Sleep
Use supplements and herbal tea
There's a ton of tricks and tips out there on how to get enough sleep each night. It comes down to trying out different things and seeing what works for you. In my experience, a cup of chamomile tea about an hour before my bedtime and a 3mg melatonin supplement is an almost sure-fire way for me to get a good, solid eight hours. Some people like having white noise going on in the background. Calming waves or soothing rain are two popular sounds that my friends have told me they use to fall asleep. There's a slew of white noise apps out there if you want to try that.
Relax and eliminate distractions
Mental Health America recommends setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it. Drinking caffeine before bed is also something to avoid. About one hour before you go to sleep, try turning off all your electronics. No Netflix or last minute email responses. Just step away from all of that and take that time before bed to de-stress.
Don't stay on your phone
It's so tempting to stay on your phone in bed, especially with the advent of nighttime settings on phones, but even that altered light can affect your shut-eye. Making your bed a place where you don't have those distractions can help improve your rest. So pile on those blankets and get cozy.
Have a no-alarm day
Something I like to do on the weekends is to go to bed at my usual time, but not have an alarm set for the next morning. Try it sometime and see how you feel. The running theory is that if you go to bed and wake up naturally, you've had just the right amount of sleep. You won't feel so exhausted throughout the day or feel like you need to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon.
Track Your Sleep
Use an app
It seems as if every phone today has a health app on it. Apple has a function in their Clock app on the iPhone where you can set your bedtime. You can also schedule your alarm by how many hours of sleep you want to get. Using this function is great if you're thinking about changing up your schedule to get enough sleep, but also need to get up to go to work.
Use a fitness tracker
Another great way to track your sleep is to use a Fitbit. You can track just about everything using one of these. The Fitbit will track how long you spend in light, deep, and REM sleep, making it easy to understand your sleeping habits in detail. It tracks how long you sleep during the night. If you know how you sleep, you can have a better idea of how to plan out your day. With Fitbit's silent alarms and reminders to keep you on track, you'll be on your way to a consistent nightly routine in no time.
There's nothing more important to your health than getting a good enough sleep. You need time to recharge and so does your body. Exercise is a great way to help your body get in a resting mode, but you can't do that if you're already tired. Sleep deprivation is always something to be aware of. The emails and Netflix shows will still be there in the morning. Put them aside and get back to them when you've had your eight or so hours of beauty sleep. Want more insight? Check out this sleep advisor site.