January 15, 2017 Liza Swedarsky, MD FacebookTwitterPinterestDo you find yourself struggling to get through your day, thinking, “If only I had another hour or two of sleep”? If so, then the fact is your body might be on to something. If you find yourself daydreaming about your next nap, contemplating purchasing stock in Starbucks, or drinking more coffee and caffeinated beverages than water, you should probably ask yourself: ”Am I getting enough rest?” Or perhaps you are sleeping 6-8 hours per night but just not feeling rejuvenated. Dozing off during meetings and presentations or noticing your commute home from the office seems longer each day may be signs of sleep deprivation. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or unrefreshing sleep. Whichever category your sleep patterns fall in to, if you are questioning whether or not you are sleeping right or sleeping tight, it is important to make sure your body and mind receives an adequate amount of rest. According to the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of individuals reported sleeping less than seven hours per night. These individuals were more likely to report difficulty concentrating than those who slept between seven and nine hours. There is no magic number for any given person for the adequate number of sleep hours. However you can determine how much sleep you need by analyzing how awake and alert you feel after a night’s rest. You should be able to freely maneuver through your day without effort even when placed in potentially boring or monotonous situations. Poor sleep quality can also result in sleep deprivation. If you are frequently awakened due to movement, a snoring spouse, children, or other members of your household, fragmented sleep will eventually cause signs of deficiency. Symptoms of sleep deprivation may mimic anxiety or depression, cause irritability, fatigue, memory problems, deceased libido, immunosuppression, increased appetite and hunger, and poor judgment. These symptoms often disappear once normal sleep is restored. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Symptoms of sleep deprivation can become out of control, affecting your safety, health, work life, and personal relationships. Excessive sleepiness has also been reported as the second leading cause of car crashes and the major cause of truck crashes and has been associated with major catastrophes. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimated sleepiness-related incidents cost billions of dollars each year. So if you are always feeling like you need another hour or two of sleep, chances are, you probably do. Improve your sleep hygiene by sleeping long enough only to feel rested. Try to establish a regular bedtime each night. Do not force sleep with medications. Create bedtime rituals that are relaxing such as reading a book or taking a warm bath. Avoid having coffee, tea, and foods that may have caffeine several hours prior to your planned bedtime. Avoid alcohol and smoking, especially in the evening. Try to solve problems before you reach your bedroom. Also create an ambiance that encourages sleep such as a dark, cool, quiet environment well equipped with the amenities that make your sleep peaceful such as blankets and comfortable pillows. Exercising regularly will also enhance your ability to rest. And remember: keep reminders of work such as your desk and television out of your nighttime oasis.