Sleep is an integral component to living an overall healthy life. Getting a healthy amount of sleep each night promotes mental health by helping maintain normal brain functions and promotes physical health by helping the body to have sufficient energy for daily activity. The right amount of sleep also promotes emotional health by helping you to better control your emotional faculties when you’re awake. Check out this course for more information on developing better physical and emotional health.
A well-rested mind has also been shown to aid in the learning process, allowing you to maintain focus on new information or the skills related to a new task. For those who are younger, sleep is a vital component to the development process. Sleep is important, but many people don’t get as much as sleep as their body needs or at the time when they need it. Those who struggle with sleep issues may not even be aware of it at first, but sleep problems usually manifest themselves eventually in sleep disorders or the effects of sleep deprivation.
Sleep Latency: The Measure of How Much Sleep You’re Getting
How can you know if you get enough sleep at night? Some people can go into their bedroom and lay down at night and be asleep in less than five minutes while others lay down and can’t sleep for thirty minutes or more. For those who can fall asleep within just a few minutes, the experience of laying their head down on the pillow and quickly descending into dreamland may feel great. They may take it as a sign that they’re a really good sleeper. In fact, those that struggle to fall asleep quickly at night may view those who do fall asleep quickly with envy, wishing they were able to fall asleep that quickly. The irony, however, is that a low sleep latency is usually a sign of sleep deprivation. Those individuals are falling asleep so quickly because they’re not getting the right amount of sleep that they need on a nightly basis. Their bodies are exhausted, and the quick descent into sleep is a sign that their body has had enough. Many people would be surprised to find out that a normal and healthy sleep latency is about 30 minutes.
Low Sleep Latency: A Sign of a Rising Sleep Debt
A low sleep latency of ten minutes or less can be a sign of sleep deprivation. Everyone needs a certain number of hours of sleep per 24-hour period. For example, an adult needs approximately 7-8 hours of sleep per day while a teenager needs approximately 8-9 hours of sleep per day. School-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep and children in preschool need about 11-12 hours of sleep. For each age group, these are the number of hours per night that will adequately restore their energy level for healthy mental, physical, and emotional activity for the following day. If you don’t get the proper amount of sleep that your body needs each night, the hours you miss out on do begin to add up.
The amount of sleep that you should be getting that you don’t adds up to your sleep debt. For example, if you miss out on 1 hour of sleep one night, 3 hours of sleep the next night, and 30 minutes of sleep the third night, over the course of three nights you’ve racked up a sleep debt of 4.5 hours. Your body wants to make that up, and that’s why you’ll likely have a low sleep latency when you lay down. Your body is exhausted and is trying to compensate for the lack of sleep. Unfortunately, although many people try to make up for the amount of sleep debt they’ve accumulated by taking naps, short naps of only 1 or 2 hours never provide the restorative benefits that a long continuous night of sleep provides.
Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can do more than just affect the amount of time it takes you to go to sleep at night. Sleep deprivation can have some serious effects on daytime activities. Many people struggle with extreme drowsiness during the daytime hours when they should feel awake and charged for the day they’re facing. Extreme drowsiness in the day can result in a person falling asleep at times when they need to be awake. Driving is a particularly dangerous example. Many people who experience serious sleep deprivation struggle to stay awake behind the wheel, and this, tragically, leads to many preventable automobile accidents. Sleep deprivation also impacts a person’s ability to focus. For students in school, this is especially true as they struggle to concentrate on and comprehend the things they are supposed to be learning in the classroom and can impact the process in which they learn.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to more serious health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can even lead to depression. Sleep deprivation can be a serious problem, but the good news is that anyone has the ability to combat sleep deprivation and increase their sleep latency time.
Practical Tips for Increasing Sleep Latency
In order to determine if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, keep a sleep journal where you record how much sleep you’re getting each day and the level of sleepiness you experience during the day. It’s a good idea to share this information with your doctor so that your doctor can help you to know what to do and what to look for.
The most practical thing to do to increase your sleep latency time is to get the recommended amount of sleep your body needs each night. Getting the recommended amount of sleep may require some rearranging of your schedule in order to make sure you have the time available each night to sleep for the time that you need. As you decrease the amount of sleep debt you accumulate each week, your sleep latency time should increase. To learn more about sleep and sleeping disorders, take a look at this course on mastering your sleep.