Sleep: it’s one of life’s necessities, but few people get enough of it. In fact, one in three Americans do not get adequate sleep nightly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even missing out on 30 minutes of sleep each night can increase blood sugar levels and cause weight gain. Missing out on sleep can also take a big toll on your mental health. Cognitive performance dramatically drops when you don’t get enough sleep, even causing memory loss in some cases.
Many people know they’re not getting enough sleep, but few do something about. Instead, they are glued to their smartphone or watch TV in bed. These sources of light disrupt the circadian rhythms of the human body and ruin someone’s ability to fall asleep. Experts call this “delayed sleep phase.”
“It takes many, many hours to get to sleep, but once you are asleep you can actually sleep for a fairly reasonable duration,” said Dr. John Kimoff of the McGill University Health Centre’s Sleep Laboratory.
One recent study suggests even something simple like a weekend camping trip can help to reset your body’s natural clock.
“Our internal clock responds strongly and quite rapidly to the natural light-dark cycle,” said Kenneth Wright, lead author and professor of Integrative Physiology at UC Boulder. “Living in our modern environments can significantly delay our circadian timing and late circadian timing is associated with many health consequences. But as little as a weekend camping trip can reset it.”
Insomnia is another prevalent sleep issue that impacts 60 million Americans. Everyone has had a night where they have a hard time falling or staying asleep, but when that problem becomes regular, it’s considered a chronic insomnia condition.
But you don’t have to be sleepless. Dr. Kimoff suggests meditative breathing, relaxation and other exercises to calm the mind and body. And for people who work through the night, Dr. Kimoff recommends taking quick 15 to 30 minute power naps, which can lead to better sleep when their shift ends.