If you’re not getting much sleep, join the club. And it’s an ever-growing club of tired people!
Mental and physical health experts continue to debate and discover reasons why we sleep poorly, but they are united in the fact that more of us aren’t getting enough sleep at the same time we all seem to want better sleep.
In 2018, the average American received 6.8 hours of sleep a night, a big drop from the early 1900’s when the average was nine. Poor sleep contributes to many problems, from poor fact retention to lack of alertness. A driver suffering from a lack of sleep is found to be more impaired than a drunk driver.
There are plenty of reasons we are not sleeping through the night but luckily some can be reversed.
- Physical, mental or emotional turmoil keeps us up at night, wakes us up sooner and keeps us from feeling refreshed.
- Headaches, teeth grinding or chronic pain conditions like TMD can hurt, and interrupt sleep. These conditions should be shared with an oral health professional.
- Alcohol. A traditional suggestion to sleep better is to have a drink or two. While this may seem relaxing, it actually can alter your sleep cycle, increasing restlessness and fatigue.
- Foods. Having rich foods near bedtime can disrupt your sleep as well.
- Caffeine. Coffee, tea or energy drinks, especially near bedtime, can make it difficult to sleep and interfere with your standard sleep rhythm. Some experts suggest stopping caffeine in the afternoon.
- Sleep apnea. This medical condition is caused when the soft tissue of your throat narrows while sleeping, making it difficult for air to pass through. This sleep-disordered breathing can make you feel un-rested, plus apnea is potentially fatal. Mouth guards or surgical procedures can keep the airway open, along with CPAP machines that provide a steady flow of oxygen.
- Blue light. This spectrum of light put out by mobile phones energizes the brain. Some phones offer a night light setting, or the owner can simply put the phone down.
- Restless leg syndrome. Data between the brain and body can sometimes cause nerves and muscles, especially arms and legs, to start twitching, which can wake you.
- Narcolepsy. This condition causes people to fall asleep anywhere. It often means poor quality sleep as well as a high risk of harm such as falling asleep while driving.
- Upset sleep rhythms. Even though we may go to bed and get up at similar times every night, the amount of sunlight we receive and the time of year may cause us to wake early or want to sleep later.
If you suffer from some or all of these conditions, especially chronic pain or sleep-disordered breathing, we can help