4 common signs of sleep deprivation

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 15, 2016
A good night's sleep is critical for your overall well-being.
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A good night's sleep is critical for your overall well-being.

But according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, nearly 40 million Americans develop chronic sleep disorders every year. Twenty million others deal with sleeping issues on occasion.

Disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy are interfering with the people's lives on a daily basis. Tasks like driving and working become more difficult, eating and interacting socially seems less desirable, and overall health turns into a concern when you're sleep deprived.

Sleep disorders affect nearly 40 million Americans every year.Sleep disorders affect nearly 40 million Americans every year.

Older adults should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep on average. If you're not, and you're living with the following signs and symptoms, you may be sleep deprived:

1. You're more irritable than usual
A study by Harvard Health Publications found that sleep disruptions and disorders can bring out negative emotions and possibly lead to mental illness. Losing even a small amount of sleep can take a toll on your overall mood.

"Losing a small amount of sleep can take a toll on your mood."

2. You're falling asleep soon after lying down
Do you remember falling asleep last night? Dozing off just minutes after lying down to rest could be a sign that you're sleep deprived.

3. Your memory is foggy
Forgetting something every once in a while is normal, especially if you live a busy life. But sleep deprivation may cause this to happen more often than usual, according to Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center.

"Without proper rest, it's harder to form memories," she told the Huffington Post. "It is harder to put emotional memories into context, and thus, it is more difficult to act rationally and thoughtfully."

4. You rely on caffeine to keep you awake
Starting your morning with a cup of coffee is a regular habit. But having more, multiple times a day, could be a sign that you need more sleep. Adversely, consuming too many caffeinated beverages could be the reason you can't fall asleep at night, so you may want to reconsider this tendency.  

Tips for getting a good night's sleep
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms above, it may be time to reevaluate your current sleeping habits. A successful night of rest requires effort. Consider these tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Don't go to bed and wake up at different times throughout the week.
  • Avoid napping when possible or stick to quick, 30-minute power naps.
  • Create a cozy environment by keeping the room cool, tidy and dark.
  • Get rid of your old mattress and pillows and give yourself an upgrade.
  • Exercise on a normal basis to use up that energy that's keeping you up at night.

If you feel as though your sleep quality and frequency has changed, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can help diagnose the issue and provide advice on how to cope.

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