Many Americans suffer from lack of sleep, broken sleep or other sleep related issues.
Technology and our 24/7 world has, as it turns out, may contribute to difficulties getting a good night’s rest. In fact, recent research indicates a link between lack of sleep and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
With restful sleep under threat, what can one do to get a better night’s sleep?
• Wake up the same time each day
• Avoid caffeine and other stimulates late in the day
• If you do not fall asleep, stay in bed for only 10 to 20 minutes and move to another room
• Reduce “environmental factors such as noise and light
• Choose a book or listening to the radio over watching television
• Avoid eating large meals before bed
There are, of course, other recommendations, but these, however, remain some of easier things we can do to improve sleep.
According to Dhawan, there many main factors that contribute to and influence how well we sleep. Some of these factors are one’s age and gender. Other factors may include the site of where one sleeps, whether or not an individual suffers from a psychological disorder, and/or substance abuse. Moreover, when an individual feels that he or she may have a sleep disorder, there are methods that researchers use to assess and identify the sleep disorder. Some of these may include video recording and journaling. If you have a problem sleeping over a prolonged period, please consult a professional.
Interestingly, there are several theories for why humans need sleep, and there is not a complete consensus on the answer. One explanation, called the “adaptive theory of sleep,” relies on an evolutionary explanation. According to the author, this theory “ . . . suggests that periods of activity and inactivity evolved a means of conserving energy.” Dhawan goes on to say: “According to this theory, all species have adapted to sleep during periods of time when wakefulness would be most hazardous.”
Whatever its origin, sleep is studied in detail by psychologists and medical and health researchers. There are two broad types of sleep, REM sleep and N-REM sleep, with the latter having at least four distinct stages occurring in succession. According to Dhawan, seep serves several main functions that include:
• Memory consolidation
• Energy conservation
• Discharge of emotions
• Restoration and recovery
Although lack of sleep appears to be a widespread, chronic problem in the United States and in other developed countries, researchers have begun to learn the origins of sleep, the factors that contribute to good sleep, and the stages of sleep. And although there many not be a “silver bullet” to cure all sleep ills, the information published by Dhawan remains a good start to understanding how to gain a better night’s sleep.
Finally, in addition to the above suggestions, recall also Dr. Kuna’s “system of pleasantries” –a cognitive behavior approach that may also be helpful in getting a good night’s rest.
Dhawan, A. (2016). Sleep Disorder: Aetiology and Management. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 7(2), 266 – 269.