Has this happened to you?

You’re driving along and suddenly become aware that you can’t remember the last several miles. Or, you find yourself nodding off at odd moments. How about when you forget to take basic safety precautions like turning the chainsaw off before your scratch your head?

No, you’re not necessarily going crazy, you’re probably just sleep deprived. And, you’re not alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 33% of us are not getting enough sleep. Instead, we’re tossing and cramping, fighting for that elusive nap that often occurs when we should be doing something else. How many of us have dropped off during a meeting, sex or even driving? It’s no wonder that sleep deprivation is a major cause of road and industrial accidents. It’s also to blame for a host of other symptoms:

  • Moodiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty learning
  • Excessive yawning
  • Depression
  • Fuzzy brain syndrome

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to combat this strength-sapping cycle:

  1. Get outside during the day. Exposure to natural light during daytime reinforces your natural biorhythms and sets you up for being ready for bed at night.
  2. Shower or relax in a bath before turning in.
  3. Establish a habitual sleep pattern of rising and going to bed at the same time each day.
  4. Don’t skimp on the bed. There are now fully adjustable, massaging and zero gravity bed bases that conform to your sleeping needs at the touch of a button. Make sure you shop around for the right adjustable basethough, as there are a lot of inferior products out there.
  5. Stop drinking caffeine at noon.
  6. Eat a light meal at night.
  7. Ration yourself to one alcoholic drink in the evening – booze may help you fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your total night’s sleep.
  8. Take sleep seriously – it affects your overall physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.

The US Department of Health and Human Services advises that healthy sleep cycles are critical for our:

  • Brain – they set you up for the next day’s learning, problem-solving and decision-making. Sleep allows our gray matter to create new connections and sift through the detritus in our subconscious.
  • Body – our heart and blood vessels undergo healing and repair when we sleep. Without it we’re at higher risk for heart and kidney disease, as well as increased blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
  • Emotions – sleep deprivation can make you lose your temper and be prone to unruly behavior.
  • Safety – tired people make mistakes and they can be costly and life-changing.
  • Productivity – if you’re exhausted you achieve less, deal with change badly and are slow to react.

Sleep, like soft toilet paper, gains value as you age. However, even the youngest of us needs unbroken sleep to feel our best. As adults, we should be getting 7-8 hours a night, even more for children. If we don’t get this downtime, we’re unprepared to face the day’s tasks and challenges. Do yourself a favor and get serious about sleep – you’ll not only feel better, you’ll probably live longer, too.