If you’ve ever experienced a lack of sleep more than a few days in a row, you already know that sleep debt is no joke. When the human body isn’t getting enough sleep, its ability to protect, restore, and strengthen our systems suffers greatly as a result. While the effects of sleep debt are usually obvious, including a lack of focus, irritability, and anxiety, not getting the recommended eight hours nightly can lead to even greater problems over time. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a number of long-term diseases, including breast cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
If you feel you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, the first thing to do is identify a few key issues. For example, if you find yourself dealing with more than one of the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moodiness and frequent mood swings
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
You could be subjecting your body to more serious health risks down the line. If you’re worried about letting sleep debt get the best of you, read on to learn more about what you can do to get the sleep you need.
Set the Clock
We know that getting the right amount of REM sleep, or “dream” sleep, can lead to better concentration and sharper focus throughout the day. The best way to increase your chances of drifting into the deepest layer of sleep is to make sure you’re getting the full eight hours. Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t end up skimping on sleep:
- Set your timer for “bedtime” on your phone.
- Install an app that specifically reminds you when to go to bed
- Use a sleep or “dream tracking” app
If you’re not one for technology, try to aim for a consistent bedtime. After a while, your body will begin to set its own natural timer.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
If you’re a screen lover, your addiction to technology could be causing issues when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. To wean yourself off of pre-bed screen time, try the following:
- Don’t focus on the clock before bed. It could end up increasing your anxiety.
- Try reading before bed instead of watching television.
- Install a monitor-dimming app that will help your eyes adjust to the darkness.
Eat Wisely Before Bed—or Not At All
If you get a late-night craving, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to satisfy it. However, it always helps to be mindful of what you’re eating at night. Certain snacks or beverages could have higher caffeine content than you realize, leading you to get less than the required amount of sleep at night. To keep an eye on what you consume before bed, try to:
- Stick to herbal, caffeine-free tea or beverages
- Don’t eat anything too high in sugar
- Eat snacks high in protein or containing tryptophan, a natural sleep-inducing amino acid. Turkey slices are a great, low-calorie example.
Make Sure Your Mattress is Working For You
You can try all the sleep remedies in the world, but if you’re not coming home to a comfortable mattress at the end of the day, your sleep will most likely suffer for it. If you wake up feeling cramped, uncomfortable, or simply ill rested, it might be time to look into a new mattress.
Be Proactive About Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
If your mood, work, and overall quality of life are suffering from a lack of sleep, don’t wait and take the problem into your own hands. Consult with your doctor about the best ways you can ensure yourself a good night’s sleep.