According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Though, realistically, anywhere between six and 11 hours may be more than enough says the foundation, the exact amount dependent on each person’s own individual needs.
How do you know where you fall in this range, or specifically how many hours you should aim to sleep each night, at a minimum? Perhaps most importantly, how do you know whether the amount of sleep you’re currently getting is negatively impacting your life? Answering these questions requires a basic understanding of what happens when the body doesn’t get the sleep it needs.
Negative impact of lack of sleep
In addition to feeling tired all day, when the body is regularly sleep deprived, other impacts are often felt as well. Healthline outlines that some of the physical effects include high blood pressure, an increased risk of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, a weakened ability to fight off colds and viruses, a lower sex drive, and a greater difficulty with maintaining a healthy weight. Balance can also become an issue if sleep is lacking, resulting in a lack of coordination while performing even the simplest of tasks.
Healthline adds that the brain’s ability to function appropriately is limited by too little sleep as well. Memory issues often arise and focus and concentration become noticeably more difficult. Moods suffer too, increasing one’s feelings of anxiety and depression and reducing the ability to properly handle difficult situations in a positive way.
Research has even found that seemingly minor sleep deprivation can have a huge impact, maybe even more so than chronic sleep issues. One such meta-analysis reviewed 19 different sleep deprivation studies, involving a total of 1,932 subjects. The findings were published in the journal Sleep and indicated that “partial sleep deprivation appeared to have a considerably greater overall impact on subjects than either short-term or long-term deprivation.”
Mood was found to suffer the worst with regard to these partial deprivations, followed by performance.
Signs of sleep deprivation issues
Most of us know when we’re not getting enough quality rest. We can just feel it. Yet, sometimes the signs become easy to ignore, especially if you’re consistently falling well below the guidelines associated with a healthy level of sleep and in a constant state of deprivation. What are these potential signs?
Medical News Today shares that sleep deprivation may be negatively impacting your personal and professional life if you regularly experience the following:
- Motivational issues
- Feelings of depression or irritability
- Forgetfulness or inability to focus
- Trouble learning new things
- Increased appetite
- Reduced sexual desires
Many of these can inhibit you professionally, either by lowering your quality of patient care or inhibiting your motivation to create and grow a successful chiropractic practice. Making sleep a priority is the first step in reducing these effects, if not eliminating them completely. Fortunately, there are a few ways to do this effectively.
How to get better sleep
Harvard University shares that one way to get better rest is to stop caffeine intake at least four hours before you intend to go to bed. And if you typically smoke, drink, or eat right before bedtime, nixing the cigarettes, limiting alcohol consumption, and reducing your nighttime snack immediately before going to sleep can help as well.
Additionally, creating a “sleep-inducing environment” can make it easier to fall and stay asleep says the health experts at Harvard. This type of environment has three specific qualities:
- Low levels of outside noise, sometimes requiring a white noise device to drown out these audio distractions if they’re interfering with your sleep;
- Minimal exposure to light, both from outside sources (such as street or porch lights) and inside sources (alarm clock displays, television screens, and night lights); and
- Cooler temperatures, preferably keeping your sleep area somewhere between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Developing a relaxing bedtime routine may also make it easier to fall asleep, especially if you’re working to establish a new sleep schedule. Repeating the same actions—taking a warm bath, reading a chapter or two in a good book, or meditating—tells your body that it’s almost time to go to bed, preparing it for a good night’s rest.
Finally, establishing certain habits during the daytime can help improve your quality of sleep. Get regular exercise (the earlier in the day, the better) and if you’re feeling tired and want to nap, do so before 5 PM so it doesn’t interfere with your new sleep schedule. Also, slow your fluid intake right before bed so you’re not waking up multiple times a night to empty your bladder.
Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your life, personally and professionally. However, once you realize that it’s an issue, you can start taking actions to correct it. Actions that, ultimately, can result in a happier, healthier, and more successful life.