Sleep

What is it?

Not surprisingly, sleep is something everyone needs! Routinely sleeping for seven or more hours per night provides your mind and body with an opportunity to rest, integrate information, and regulate digestive and hormone systems. Reduced time sleeping or waking through the night has been correlated with problems related to concentration, fatigue, increased injury, impaired learning, blood sugar dysregulation, and chronic health conditions. Healthy sleep occurs approximately every 24-hours, for 6-9 consecutive hours at night, and repeatedly cycles through five stages, the most important being REM sleep. Getting too little sleep can be caused by a variety of lifestyle or health-related problems.

What Symptoms Might You Notice?

Everyone struggles with sleep now and then. However, if you are giving yourself adequate time and opportunity to sleep and you still experience persistent and severe problems, you should talk to a doctor or therapist

  • Poor quality or quantity of sleep, such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early
  • Significant distress during the day, such as falling asleep when you don’t intend to, severely impaired concentration, and excessive fatigue
  • Insomnia (giving yourself the opportunity to sleep a full night, but physically unable to sleep) at least three nights per week for more than three months.

How Prevalent is Sleep Deprivation?

One in nine people, or 40 million Americans, experience insomnia. However, sleep deprivation due to inadequate opportunity to sleep, disrupted sleep, or necessarily waking too early (to get to work or to class) is even more common.


Things you can do to help with sleep:

Give yourself adequate time and opportunity to sleep! Sleep cannot improve if you do not allow yourself a period of 8 – 9 hours of uninterrupted time to sleep each night.

  • Adjust light to increase natural melatonin:
    • Sleep 8 hours every night, without interruptions
    • Make sure your bedroom is dark at night – Try blackout curtains
    • Get plenty of natural light during the day
    • Dim lights in your home and on electronics 3 – 4 hours before you plan to sleep
    • Read from a book, rather than a screen, if reading before bed
  • Adjust temperature to drop your core body temperature 2 – 3 degrees:
    • Splash water on your face before bed
    • Warm-up hands and feet at bedtime by running under warm water
    • Wear socks in bed
    • Drop your thermostat to 63-65 degrees
    • Take a hot bath before bed
  • Lifestyle modifications:
    • Wake up at the same time every day to regulate your internal clock and reduce reliance on an alarm
    • Limit how often you are using alcohol
    • Nap when needed, but don’t rely on this as a chronic substitute
    • Consider a melatonin supplement
    • Invest in your sleep as you do your nutrition, training, grades, and relationships

Apps that help:

  • Calm: Sleep, meditation, and relaxation
  • Insight Timer: Sleep, anxiety, and stress
  • Headspace: Exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety, and reduce stress
  • Sleep Cycle: A free way to monitor your sleep cycle, identify when it is best for you to wake so you feel the most rested.
  • White Noise: A collection of ambient noises to help you focus on sleep without the distraction of external noises. The app includes sounds from nature, a fan, and other gentle sounds.

Difficulty Sleeping