Sleep. We all need it. We all crave it. Seems to be such an elusive thing for so many though. That's why the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has declared April 23-29, 2017 National Sleep Awareness Week. This public awareness campaign promotes and educates the public on the importance of sleep.
The timing of this event coincides with the NSF Sleep in America poll results. The 2015 poll results were telling in their discovery of why we find sleep so challenging in America. Stress and pain are the two primary reasons for our lack of slumber. 12 percent of those polled stated that in the previous seven days they had experienced severe or very severe stress.
This group had a sleep debt* of around 49 minutes per night. Additionally, over 50 percent of that same group reported they had poor sleep quality. The respondents with acute or chronic pain slept 0.3 and 0.6 fewer hours per week respectively than those with no pain.
The "sleep debt" for the chronic pain group was 42 minutes and for the acute pain group, it was 14 minutes. Even worse, the group with severe pain got 60 minutes less of sleep each night. Of course, sleep quality is low for this group as well.
These individuals with sleep problems find that it impacts their daily life activities as well. Interestingly, this poll also found that those who make sleep a priority actually average 36 more minutes of sleep each night giving them 7.3 hours of shut eye.
By contrast, the group who did not consider sleep a priority got 6.7 hours sleep each night. Even the group in chronic pain who made sleep a priority got more each night.
How to get more sleep each night.
This poll shows that both high motivation to get enough sleep each night and a bedtime routine were the best ways to ensure a person did in fact, get more sleep. Some factors that disturbed a good night's sleep for the respondents were uncomfortable mattresses, temperature, inside noise (affected women the most), light and outside noise.
The National Sleep Foundation's website Sleep.org offers up advice on how we can get a better night's sleep. To turn our bedroom into a haven for sleep, they recommend we ban all electronic devices from the room since the blue light they emit interferes with the production of melatonin.
If our mattress is uncomfortable, we should invest in a new high-quality one that is firm but not too firm. Additionally, replace old sheets and pillows. The ideal temperature for a bedroom is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A ceiling fan is recommended too.
Clean up the clutter around your bed. The "visual chaos" can create stress during a time we are trying to relax. As you can see, sleep is very important for our health and well-being. It is worth it to make it a priority in our lives. We are more productive and healthier with regular sleep. What can you do today to ensure that tonight you get the forty winks you need?
* Sleep debt is the gap of time between how much sleep a person feels he/she needs and the amount he is actually getting.