Beating Sleep Deprivation Through Sleep Monitoring and Intentional Lifestyle Changes
How Can Sleep Monitoring Uncover Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits?
Being asleep is a fascinating, universal phenomenon, bringing forth physical and chemical changes necessary for the natural restoration and rehabilitation of living creatures. It is shared across species, and plays an incredibly important role in the continuation of life, for humans and animals alike. Going to sleep is a biological function that is absolutely integral for our survival and well-being. If we practice healthy sleeping habits, we should be spending approximately a third of our life in a state of sleep. The sheer amount of time we find ourselves sound asleep is a clear sign to treat our bedtime with the utmost importance.
Experiencing irregularities or deficiencies during our natural sleep cycle can indicate trouble with our health brewing during our day-to-day lives. Monitoring such irregularities and deficiencies can help us identify the need to make healthy changes to our lifestyle. This is especially important to achieve before our sleep issues become increasingly difficult to heal, even chronic. In many cases, suffering from sleep issues is an indication of various problematic behaviors and circumstances occurring during our waking life.
Yet, sleep improvement is possible for most people. Apart from people with pre-existing medical conditions and disabilities, or major and chronic illnesses, the majority of people who experience sleep irregularities and disorders can ease or eliminate these symptoms by implementing healthy changes into their lifestyle. For a generally healthy person, sleeplessness should always be an obvious red flag that something with our health is wrong and requires our intentional and calculated intervention.
What Factors Directly Improve Sleep Irregularities and Sleep Disorders?
If your lifestyle is generally unhealthy, you are very likely to experience a certain degree of sleep irregularities and sleep disorders. In these instances, to improve sleep quality, a person has to improve either their entire lifestyle or at least the parts of it that are most problematic. Such factors are numerous, many times occurring in tandem, increasing the chances of sleep issues worsening at best, or becoming chronic at worst. Factors that directly improve sleep can include the following:
- Balanced weight
- Healthy diet
- Sufficient hydration
- Regular exercise
- Low-stress levels
- Decreasing or eliminating the intake of toxic chemicals (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, illegal substances)
- Beating unnecessary addictions to prescription medication
- Adequate personal hygiene
- Sufficient vitamin intake
- Quality of sleeping quarters and accessories (mattress, linens, nightwear, etc.)
- Decreasing the amount of technology use during the day
- Decreasing the proximity of technology to sleeping quarters
What Can Happen as a Consequence of Untreated Sleep Deprivation?
Neglecting the quantity and quality of sleep can have dire health consequences, especially if this neglect is practiced on a long-term basis. This is especially true for people suffering from chronic sleep disorders. The risk of experiencing serious medical problems increases significantly with the presence of sleep disorders. Most lifestyle diseases will spill into the sleep cycle and establish themselves as negative changes to our sleeping patterns. Because of how deadly lifestyle diseases are, it is especially important to monitor our sleep cycle and adjust unhealthy behaviors when significant changes arise. Regulating and steering the sleep cycle can significantly decrease the following illnesses, among many others:
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Heart stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Immunity impairment
- Lowered sex drive
- Lowered fertility
- Impaired brain functions
- Impaired muscle functions
- Depression and other mental health disorders
How Common are Sleep Disorders?
Despite most people having an understanding that lacking sleep is simply unhealthy, good sleep has become a luxury many people across the world are not able to enjoy. An estimated thirty percent of the world population suffers from short-term insomnia alone. When we include other sleep disorders, such as long-term insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and other issues, the percentage of people who suffer from sleep disorders worldwide is massive.
How Much Sleep is Considered Healthy?
What can be considered a healthy sleeping pattern? When evaluating our sleeping pattern it is imperative to consider both, quantity and quality. In terms of length, the healthy standard of how much sleep people should be getting is mainly dictated by age categories. The following categories are generally accepted:
- Newborn: 14 to 17 hours daily
- 12 months: 10 to 14 hours daily
- 24 months: 10 to 14 hours daily
- 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours
- 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours
- Adults: 7 to 9 hours
Additionally, other factors can have an impact on the amount of sleep required by individuals. For example, pregnant women can require extra hours of sleep, ageing can decrease the sleep cycle, and previous sleep deprivation can increase it. Individually evaluating the appropriate amount of sleep time is essential for successful sleep cycle monitoring.
How to Improve Sleep Quality?
The quantity of sleep has to come hand in hand with quality to achieve a truly healthy state of regular, deep sleep. If someone enters your bedroom many times during the night, or you experience other types of unnecessary disturbances, it is very hard to truly get a good night's sleep. Apart from making intentional, long-term changes to our lifestyle habits (such as dietary improvements, an increase of water intake, weaning off unnecessary medications, taking vitamin supplements, etc.), there are also some simple and easy changes that we can easily employ to improve sleep quality.
- Keeping your bedroom clean
- Removing technology from sleeping quarters, including the TV
- Turning all lights completely off, darkness is important for proper regeneration of the body
- Airing out the room through an open window before going to sleep, to increase oxygen levels
- Purchasing high-quality mattress and sleep accessories such as allergen-free blankets
- Using 100% cotton linen products
- Using 100 % cotton pajamas
- Adhering to daily personal hygiene
- Regularly washing and changing all sleeping accessories
- Using sleep aids like a weighted blanket or anti-snoring devices
- Adjusting room temperature to preferred levels
A person who lives a physically and mentally healthy life almost always has a healthy sleeping cycle. If this pattern changes, and we find ourselves unable to sleep well or to sleep long or deep enough, we can attribute such changes to unhealthy lifestyle habits in the majority of cases. This knowledge can help us take appropriate action to navigate away from the possibility of negatively impacting our overall health and well-being.