Are You Sleeping Enough?
How has your sleep been the past few days, weeks, and months? If it’s like most people, you are not getting the right amount of sleep you need every day – about 7 hours or more (for adults) depending on your unique needs. There are many potential reasons why you aren’t getting enough sleep, which we outline below. Identifying the cause or causes of your sleep deprivation is the most critical step in getting back to healthy sleeping.
Sleeping Disorders that Cause Sleep Deprivation
Sleeping disorders, by definition, cause sleep deprivation. Sleep disorders are usually chronic (unless treated) and therefore usually cause chronic sleep deprivation. Common sleep disorders include:
- Insomnia: being unable to fall asleep, stay asleep during the night, or sleep in until a normal hour (i.e., being wide awake at 3am)
- Obstructive sleep apnea: a condition where you stop breathing many time throughout the night and have to rouse in order to start breathing again
- Restless Leg Syndrome: a condition where you get tingly, itchy, or painful feelings in your legs at night, and have to rouse and move them in order to make the feeling go away
- Parasomnias: refer to a collection of sleep disorders that disrupt your circadian rhythm and impact sleep quality
- Circadian rhythm disorders: disorders that disrupt your natural biological clock, such as night terrors or shift work sleeping disorder
Check out the above links for more information
Pain as a Cause of Sleep Deprivation
Pail kills sleep, period. That much is obvious – it’s hard to sleep when you have a stabbing pain in your back, neck, or elsewhere. Chronic pain leads to chronic sleep deprivation in most people. If you have pain, the important question for you is: Am I getting enough sleep?
Here are some facts about pain and sleep deprivation – they are quite eye opening [2015 Sleep in AmericaTM Poll]:
- People with chronic pain had an average nightly sleep debt of 42 minutes (i.e. getting 42 minutes less sleep than they should)
- People with acute pain in the last week had an average sleep debt of 14 minutes
- 65 percent of people with no pain reported good or very good sleep quality
- 45 percent of people with acute pain in the last week reported good or very good sleep quality
- 37 percent of people with chronic pain in the last week reported good or very good sleep quality
- 23 percent of people with chronic pain reported being diagnosed with a sleep disorder by a doctor, compared to just 6 percent of pain free people. It’s quite a sobering statistic
It’s also important to be aware that certain medications can also cause sleep deprivation.
Biology as a Cause of Sleep Deprivation
As we age we go through natural biological and hormonal changes that affect how and when we sleep. Namely, as we get older we tend to go to bed earlier, sleep less deeply at night, and wake up much earlier. Often, this entails needing to take naps in the day in order to get the requisite 7+ hours of sleep.
People who are unaware of the changes or are unable to adjust to them for one reason or another will have difficulty maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, and are at high risk of becoming sleep deprived.
Medical Conditions that Cause Sleep Deprivation
Many medical conditions can cause sleep deprivation. Common medical conditions that lead to less sleep are:
- Surgery and operations
- The medications used to treat disease can also cause sleep problems
Other diseases may also affect sleep depending on how symptoms present in your body.
No doubt about it, your lifestyle choice impact your sleep for better or worse. Any of the following lifestyle choices will hurt your chances at getting a full night’s rest:
- Doing shift work
- Drinking too much coffee throughout the day
- Drinking coffee to late in the day
- Drinking alcohol before bed
- Using electronics and screens before bed (blue light inhibits sleep)
- Foregoing sleep in order to play video games, party, etc.
- Keeping a loud, messy, or lit room
- Skimping on good sheets, pillows, or mattress
Here in Alaska, our lifestyle choices have to be particularly geared for sleep because the extreme lighting conditions in the summer and winter can greatly affect our ability to sleep well.
Life stressors can play a significant role in both chronic and acute sleep deprivation. Common stressors include:
- Loss of parent, spouse, or child
- Stressful job
- Chronic financial stress
Usually, people are aware of large sources of stress.
If you have significant stress in your life and you aren’t sleeping, work with your doctor or a sleep specialist on ways to combat stress and sleep better. Take this free online sleep test to get started.