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Sleep: Getting the Rest You Need

published March 10, 2008

By Mahsa Khalilifar
( 2 votes, average: 3.6 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Too much? I doubt that, and so do a good number of sleep surveys and researchers.

A recent poll taken from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) confirms that we are definitely lacking in getting the sufficient amount of sleep. According to the poll, many Americans are getting less sleep than necessary, and it is even leading to people falling asleep at work. Not only that, but not getting enough sleep can cause other problems. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain and increased stress levels, not to mention a lack of productivity overall in your life.

The NSF poll says Americans are working more and sleeping less, a dangerous combination, and adds that "63% state they are very likely to just accept their sleepiness and keep going." The poll even mentions that 32% rely on caffeine to keep going. About 54% may catch some extra Zs on weekends, which seem to be the only times many people have to get some sleep.

Sleep deprivation can be more of a health hazard than one may think. Ever practically fall asleep at the wheel, or how about at your desk at your office, trying to finish that last task while your eyes are drooping? If so, you've definitely been sleep deprived, and that is cause for concern, not only socially but also health-wise.

Many work full-time, take care of a family, and have other duties that take up most of their time. Who has time for sleep, right? Unfortunately, this seems to be the reality more and more often these days. Not getting that sleep, though, can make you weak and decrease the quality of your performance.

So what can we do to combat the situation? Going to bed earlier sounds nice, but what if this isn't always possible? Some people can't even get to sleep once they hit the sack. Studies have shown that, on average, it usually takes a person 20 minutes to fall asleep once in bed.

How can you use this information to your advantage? The best thing to do is to get the deep sleep you need once in bed. Below are some tips on how to get the rest you need and deserve; maybe you will wake up a happier camper.
  1. Try adding some background noise. Lullabies were made for babies, but many adults need something to rock them to sleep. Add some extra noise that will prove to be soothing. It helps if you get your mind focused on one thing and drown out all the other outside noise that may be present. Now, don't go blasting rock music, but a low, natural noise (e.g., beach sounds) could be a great solution to putting yourself in a comfortable zone. Even a fan or heater set on low could help with this.

  2. The less light, the better. If your window allows some moonlight to peek in, even that could wake you up. You can try to block out the light by placing darker curtains or shades on your window. Being in a darker room also allows you to go into a deeper sleep.

  3. Cover, plug, and snooze. Earplugs are helpful, and so are sleep masks. You can purchase quality ones at your local Target or another large retailer. Earplugs help you avoid all the excess noise that may interfere with your slumber. Make sure your mask is comfortable, and make sure to wash it at least once a week.

  4. Pre-snooze activity is equally important. Having a hard time falling asleep? Music helps, but so does a soothing, warm drink. Heat up some milk or some decaffeinated tea with honey. A glass of red wine is not a bad idea either. Lighting up some aromatherapy or a nice-smelling candle can help relax you as well. Just remember to put everything out before you fall asleep!
The most important thing is to make time to get a proper amount of sleep that will keep you healthy and happy. Studies confirm what you probably already know, but it's actually taking that knowledge to heart that proves tricky. You may be rushing through your life and moving at a fast pace, but at night you need to have a chance to relax and clear your mind. After all, it is unlikely that you will wake up in the morning and regret that good night's sleep you just had!

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