By now, we all should have some idea that sleep plays an important role in our everyday lives. The million dollar question is: How do I know if I get enough sleep?
This installment on the topic of sleep is devoted towards the recognition of whether or not you need to address your sleeping habits a little more closely. The average person needs roughly 7.5 hours of sleep. The problem is that you’ll get those hours a few days per week, but you may miss an hour here or there. So what happens now? Is it okay to miss those hours and just forget about them (after all, it’s just one hour and I feel fine)?
Myth or Fact: Sleep debt (the hours you build up of lost sleep) accumulates over time.
The answer is fact.
In a future post, I will go into more detail on exactly what happens to your body and the changes that are made if you accumulate sleep debt. In the meantime, here are eight questions (some are repetitive, I know) to ask yourself in order to determine if your sleeping habits need to be changed:
- Do you find it easy to get out of bed in the morning?
- Do you find yourself sleepy during the daytime?
- Do you have difficulty concentrating throughout the day?
- Are you generally in a good mood?
- Do you struggle to get out of bed?
- Are you frequently irritable?
- Do you find yourself needing more than 2 cups of coffee or caffeine per day?
- Do you nod off or come close to nodding off after lunch or dinner, at the movies, watching television, or while driving?
Truthfully answer these questions. You may begin to notice that you’ve been ignoring what your body is telling you because, “I’ve been doing this job for 10 years and I’m used to getting feeling tired in the morning. I work through it and I eventually become alert within an hour or two.” This brings me to the second:
Myth or Fact: Your body gets used to a stunted sleeping schedule.
The answer is myth.
Ten years of limiting your sleep to five hours per night predisposes your body to having symptoms of Chronic Sleep Deprivation. Some common symptoms include depression, fatigue, weakness, headaches, migraines, stomach problems, and immune disorders.
So, your sleep tip of the day is: Keep track of your alertness throughout the day and answer the eight questions above as honestly as possible. If you find yourself answering any of them reluctantly, you successfully discovered an issue that needs to be addressed. “The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is a problem.”
~ Andrew Yaun, D.C.