Your eyelids get heavy. You have difficulty lifting and keeping them open. You hear sounds but it seems these sounds are just soothing to your mind. Muscles, especially of your neck, loose their strength and for a moment you unknowingly bow your head in submission to the desire to sleep. Yes. You are experiencing the call of sleep.
Sleep is vital for a proper functioning body. However sometimes we abuse this essential and necessary blessing.
Do you ever fall asleep in church listening to what everybody else said was a good sermon? When driving long distances do you more often than not, doze off for a second or two? It may not be because of the sermon or the drive. You may in fact have sleep deprivation.
There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than six hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good, but in reality it is a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.
Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed, asleep.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most health experts state that adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need more. It is a fallacy that our sleep needs decrease with age. Most older people need at least 7 hours or more of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.
Let us now look at a few telling signs that should concern you. You may be sleep deprived if you….
• Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
• Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
• Feel sluggish in the afternoon
• Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
• Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
• Need to nap to get through the day
• Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
• Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
• Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed
While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk. Something to think about, isn’t it?
Well, you may say, now that I have diagnosed myself, or more accurately, my spouse has diagnosed me, as sleep deprived, how do I begin to correct this deprivation? I’m glad you asked that question. Here are some helpful sleep tips.
1. First, rule out medical or psychological causes for your sleep problem. See your doctor.
2. You need to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up (literally get out of bed) at the same time every day.
3. Get regular exercise, 20 minutes a day at a minimum, not too close to your bedtime.
4. Avoid caffeine and foods high in sugar. Yes that piece of chocolate cake or pie can disrupt your sleep.
5. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. A very good idea is to do what I did and remove the TV from your bedroom. Remember the bedroom is for other important activities–I mean, you know, like reading a good book.
6. I have found that reading my Bible at bedtime relaxes me. Try it.
Now if you fell asleep while reading this article, you really have a problem. Get help.