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Avoiding Sleep Deprivation

We are a full-throttle, caffeine-fueled, plugged-in nation. These issues - the pace of life, overuse of caffeine, lack of routine, inability to control stress - are all factors that commonly affect the amount of sleep we get. The body can’t be expected to function properly without adequate rest. Most people need around 7-8 hours daily for maximum health and peak performance.

Nearly all symptoms we experience can be, to some degree, attributed to poor sleep habits. Pain, fatigue, headaches, weakness, hypertension and mood disorders can all be lessened, if not resolved, by getting the proper amount of rest.

A thorough investigation of lifestyle, nutrition, stress management and symptoms is necessary to pinpoint the cause of poor sleep symptoms. A diary recording these details is an invaluable tool for determining the root of issues.

We must first decipher the difference between difficulty falling asleep and broken sleep, two separate issues with separate causes. If you suffer from broken sleep, start by investigating what is actually waking you up. Sleep apnea is a common cause often revealed through snoring or cessation of breathing. To get to the bottom of a possible case, you will have to ask your sleeping partner to observe your habits, or tape yourself. Getting up frequently to urinate and pain are also common causes of broken sleep. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, work with a physician to thoroughly evaluate a more specific cause and begin considering specific therapies. 

For many, simply falling asleep is a frustrating affliction. It can be daunting, spending night after night tossing and turning awake with thoughts racing and worries circling the mind. Aside from mental barriers, pain or cramps in the legs upon lying down are also common. Restless legs is a treatable condition and should be addressed with your physician.

Sometimes it isn’t so obvious. Countless people rack their brains trying to come up with a cause for why they can’t sleep and never get an answer. There certainly are many who suffer from insomnia with no known reason. Sleep can be an elusive, tricky thing, but there are measures that can improve your odds of catching some shut-eye.

Anyone who watches television knows there is an arsenal of medications available to promote a restful night’s sleep. Without completely discounting these medications, a note of caution: Despite statements to the contrary, they can be habit forming, cause a hangover or groggy effect, and elicit daytime fatigue. These should be a last resort, only tried after exhausting all natural, nutritional methods.

On the next page, learn about strategies for preventing sleep deprivation and improving sleep.