It’s common knowledge that we are supposed to get eight hours of sleep a night. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times this happens in a given month.
My sleeping habits are absolutely terrible. I’m lucky if it’s between 5-6 hours on a given weeknight, which after a few days, leaves me feeling completely exhausted.
It’s not that I don’t try, I really do. But, between undergrad and grad school, I spent a total of over seven years living the “college” lifestyle. You know, late night (and occasionally all night) study sessions, sustaining on caffeine, early mornings. I will be the first to admit, I was extremely guilty of it, especially in recent years, when I was working anywhere from 25 – 40 hours a week and maintaining a full load of classes.
The thing is, after so many years of that sleep cycle, it is so hard to break. In recent months, I have made a more concerted effort to get to bed earlier, and it’s really not the getting to bed that’s the problem.
It’s the actual falling asleep part that I struggle with.
It’s slowly improving and I do have nights where I am sound asleep before 11, but I feel like those nights are still the exception, not the rule.
According to the Harvard Medical School, there are six reasons why we need that sleep:
Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Personally, I think those are some excellent reasons to get your sleep on!
I’ve tried a bunch of different methods to help me fall asleep easier, but I am definitely struggling to find that thing that works for me.
Do you get enough sleep? What helps you fall asleep at night?