Sleep is a physiological aspect of each and every individual’s life. Human beings spend up to a third of their lives sleeping. In spite of this, most people do not appreciate the benefits of this essential undertaking. Quality sleep is a requirement; it is not optional. After a good night of sleep, changes are normally recognized almost immediately.
People’s way of life, their behaviors and habits affect both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, most people only pay more attention to their lifestyle when they fall ill. Some lifestyle factors can cause illnesses by aggravating an already sleep deprived condition. Lifestyle factors related to sleep deprivation include diet, sleep, exercise, depression, anxiety, stress and tension. Societal stresses also include noise, traffic, climate change, pollution and war.
The following are lifestyle related conditions that impede the quality of sleep.
1. Shift work
20 percent of the population in industrialized countries work beyond the regular day shifts. Night shift workers sleep for short periods during the day and exhibit sleepiness which lasts for several days after the night shift. Morning shift workers also experience inhibited sleep as a result of waking up early and then becoming sleepy during the day. Human beings have a circadian timing system which gets interrupted when sleep patterns are changed, this compromises productivity, safety and health.
2. Frequent travel
Being a frequent traveler causes jet lag which is another circadian rhythm inhibitor. The sleep-wake schedules and the light-dark cycles of globe trotters make it difficult to fall asleep when flying eastward. Early morning awakening when flying westwards also impairs quality sleep, appetite and alertness.
3. Weight gain
Instances of obesity and overweight are on the rise in developed societies. It has reached pandemic levels in both children and adults. Obese individuals exhibit shorter sleep which results into more sedentary time. They normally average less than five hours of sleep every night. Obesity also causes disordered breathing which disrupts normal sleep.
4. Alcohol abuse
Alcohol abuse in young people is increasing every day. A high concentration of alcohol in the blood reduces sleep latency and quality, it also increases wake time at night. Sleep consolidation generally reduces as the night passes. Overall sleepiness rises while sleep quality slumps. These effects are more prevalent on women. Alcohol also reduces performance of tasks requiring more attention and induces hangover on the user.
5. Cigarette smoking
This behavior has been recognized as a sleep inhibitor. Laboratory studies report that adult smokers have more difficulty in falling asleep and experience fragmented sleep which is probably as a result of the nicotine in cigarettes. Smokers have a higher prevalence of poor quality sleep and record more sleep disturbances than non-smokers. Night smoking also causes sleep bruxism.
Good sleep is important for you to be at your best throughout the day, so do your best at taking care of yourself so you can live each day refreshed and joyful.
Do you have any bad habits that make your sleep less optimal?
Are there things you can change in order for you to get better sleep?
Sleep like your good life depends upon it, because it does!
Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.
The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.
It is my continued desire to share knowledge about all things that help us thrive, flourish, create, maintain and share happiness. I can’t emphasize enough what a good night of restorative sleep does for our bodies, minds and emotions. In my experience as health and wellness editor at Sleep and Wellness Magazine I have been called upon to weave a user-friendly true story about the nature of our inner garden and the impact of “sleep-fulness” and sleeplessness upon our overall health and wellbeing. Modern life has made many aspects of the daily routine easier and at the same time, added volumes of stress that make the simple pleasures, such as a great sleep, somewhat illusive. When we learn to slow down and “be” with life, in life and immersed with presence and attention wonderful things can happen. Enjoy this series on the Magic of Sleep!