Do you like to sleep in? If you don’t, you are one among the very few people who don’t. While being an early-riser is a good habit, in a few cases, the best thing to do is to hit the snooze button and get those extra z’s.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends most adults sleep 7—9 hours every night. But this number could vary depending on various factors like age, medical conditions, and pregnancy. Getting high-quality sleep for an adequate number of hours is vital for your physical and mental health. Getting enough sleep aids in retaining memory, managing hunger levels, and maintaining the immune system. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you risk serious health diseases.
Getting enough shut-eye is particularly important if you are in the following situations:
1. If You Feel Very Stressed
Stress is the natural feeling of pressure that comes from a particular situation. In reasonable amounts, stress causes no harm to the body. However, mental and physical health problems arise when you have too much stress over a long period of time.
You may not realize how your stressful job or home situation takes a toll on your health because sometimes the signs are subtle. Some of the most common symptoms of early stress include an increase in breathing rate, increase in blood pressure, reduced rate of metabolism and muscle tension. If stress continues over prolonged periods, additional symptoms may be revealed, such as:
- Sleep loss
- Weight gain
- Digestive issues
- Muscle pain
- Muscle spasms
- Heart disease
Those who experience high-stress may experience insomnia as well.
Stress and sleep have a two-way relationship. Your brain is prompted by stress to remain in an active state instead of switching to the parasympathetic nervous system, which lets you relax and sleep.1 Those who have trouble sleeping may experience stress because of it. Many people find this to be a vicious cycle that is difficult to break out of.
The ill effects of stress on your health can be reduced if you get enough sleep. You will be more capable of tackling a day’s stress if you have had a good night’s sleep. You also tend to be more easily agitated when you are tired, which in turn can increase your stress.
If you find that you are constantly not getting enough sleep, you have to be strict with yourself and make some changes in your life. For example, put your phone on silent when you are going to sleep. You could also find a good therapist who will help you identify the reasons behind your stress and teach tools for dealing with them in a healthy manner.
2. If You Are Pregnant
When you are growing another human in your body, you definitely need more rest. Your body is working extra hard to nurture a growing child, make more blood, and pump blood faster (among a number of other things). It’s best if you can get a few extra hours of sleep at night when you are pregnant, but if that’s not possible then a few naps during the day could help.2 Dealing with morning sickness or body pain can make it hard for you to fall and stay asleep, but you should try and sleep as often or as long you possibly can.
3. If You Aren’t Keeping Well
Your immune system depends on sleep to stay healthy. If you’re having troubles with your sleep, it can change the response of your immune system drastically. This means you can even have trouble fighting common infections and recovering as well. Your body produces infection-fighting antibodies when you are asleep. These are necessary to get better. If you feel like you are coming down with something, get as much sleep as possible. Also, avoid watching television and using your mobile right before getting shuteye because electronic devices emit blue light and this can disturb your sleep.3
4. If You’re Exercising Hard
Your muscles are put under a lot of strain when you exercise, particularly if it is strenuous exercise. This is perfectly fine and even healthy if you are giving the body the rest it deserves. Demanding exercises may cause microtrauma in your muscles that need time to repair and become stronger. This repair is done when you are asleep. If you do not get enough sleep, the multiple micro-tears will not be able to heal leading to a serious injury, keeping you out of the gym for many months. So, if you are someone who likes to push yourself physically, do not neglect your sleep.
5. If You Are Doing Shift Work
Those who work the graveyard shift know the troubles of sleeping very well. While the rest of the world sleeps, you have to be your most active selves. It may be a struggle for you to get into the routine of sleeping during the day and staying awake at night because your internal clock is set to be awake during the day. Even if you may not wake up when your family is bustling about during the day, the quality of your sleep may be affected. That is why you have to be extra cautious and make sure that you are getting the sleep you need. Try to block out all the light and noise from your room when you are going to bed so that your sleep is not disturbed.
If you think that it is absolutely impossible for you to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night, try doing it at least a few times a week. Also, try to make some small changes in your routine and environment to squeeze in a few more hours of quality sleep. If you are struggling even if you have the time and the right environment, it’s time to consult a specialist.