A new school year is just around the corner! This time of year brings about busy schedules, lengthy to-do lists, and worries that can keep you up all night. It can be difficult to stop your mind from racing at night, making it hard to fall asleep. And while beauty rest is really important, when the lack of sleep becomes chronic sleep deprivation- it is truly no laughing matter.
Chronic sleep deprivation significantly affects your health, performance, safety, and eventually your finances. Sleep deprivation is often caused by undiagnosed sleep disorders, and you can go undiagnosed for years- night after night, not getting enough sleep and waking up the next day feeling tired & groggy. You may think that since you’ve always felt this way, it’s normal; but it may be more serious than that. Consequences of sleep deprivation can include: decreased performance & alertness, memory & cognitive impairment, occupational injury, automobile injury and poor health, just to name a few. So if you’re suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, it’s a very serious condition that should be not ignored.
If you’re not ready to take the next step to finally seek professional treatment for your sleep disorder, we have a great list of home remedies for you to try to help you relax and get to sleep; because in order to have a successful semester, you’re going to need your beauty rest.
Stick to a sleep schedule- even on the weekends. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your body’s clock, which can help you both fall asleep & stay asleep. If you’ve mastered the sleep routine, sticking to an exercise routine can be your next feat! Vigorous exercise tends to improve your ability to fall asleep more effectively, but any exercise will help; however, avoid exercise right before bed. Exercising boosts your body’s production of adrenaline and increases your heart rate, which for some makes it difficult to wind down. Allow at least a couple of hours in between your workout and bedtime.
A few simple changes to your diet might do the trick as well. Drink a warm cup of chamomile or decaffeinated green tea right before bed; there’s something inherently soothing about sipping on a cup of warm tea that promotes sleepy effects. In addition, feasting on a large meal right before bed can lead to heartburn, indigestion, and the overall feeling of fullness that can prevent you from falling asleep.
If none of these suggestions have helped, and you still lay awake at night unable to fall asleep, try changing your habits in bed. Make your bed a sleep space only. If you can’t fall asleep after 30-40 minutes, get up; don’t continue to lie in bed. Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired, but make sure the activity is not too stimulating or involves bright lights. This voluntary act helps strengthen the association between your bed and sleep, which can help you fall asleep more easily.
While these are great home remedies that can provide temporary relief to your sleep problems, chronic sleep deprivation requires more serious measures. The first step is identifying the problem behind your inability to sleep properly. The best way to do this is to have a sleep study performed by a certified sleep specialist, which can be conducted at home or in a sleep center. The sleep study will measure the number of apneas, oxygen levels, snoring, and other disturbances while you sleep, which will help your doctor determine what your problem is and how to remedy it. If you are hesitant to participate in a sleep study, your doctor may choose to perform a nasal endoscopy instead. This will show if there are any blockages that are preventing you from breathing properly, thus causing you to stir in your sleep.