Sleep problems are one of the most common complaints among adults living in modern society. Not only can sleep difficulties affect your physical and mental health, but most sleep problems are the result of unhealthy psychological and behavioral patters that interfere with a good night’s rest. The information throughout this section will help you address these issues and improve your sleep.
How to tell if you’re getting enough sleep
According to Michael Grandner, Ph.D., a member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, a good way to determine this is to check yourself 30 minutes to an hour after waking up to see how you feel. That’s about how long it takes for our brain and body to fully boot up. If you feel awake and alert, you’re probably getting enough sleep. If you still feel sluggish or tired then you’re sleep deprived.
Finding your sleep ideal
To find your own sleep ideal, try doing an experiment where you move bedtime either backwards or forwards 15 minutes to see how you feel the next day. Some people may find that cutting back on sleep time actually helps them sleep better, and they’ll wake up feeling more refreshed. Others will find that adding a little snooze time leaves them feeling better. Find a formula that works for you.
The importance of keeping to a consistent schedule
Many people keep different sleep schedules on different nights of the week. This is like giving yourself jet lag without the time-zone switch. Sleeping later in the day postpones the rise in body temperature by a few hours, which also means a later drop at night, making it harder to get to sleep.
So when you sleep late on weekends, you throw off your body’s clock, resulting in Sunday night insomnia.
It’s also not very healthy. Research out of the Netherlands has found that those who slept in two or more hours on the weekends had higher resting heart rates and cortisol levels than those with consistent wake times, thus raising the risk of hypertension. It can also send your sympathetic nervous system into overdrive, which raises chronic inflammation throughout the body. (Men’s Health, Jan./Feb. 2015, p. 38)