According to recent studies, approximately 41 million Americans receive less than six hours of sleep on a nightly basis. While this number is subject to a variety of different factors, including our jobs, personal relationships, day-to-day responsibilities and even our geographic region, the fact that Americans are not getting enough sleep is troubling.
Sleeping More During Weekends
Many Americans take advantage of the weekends in order to sleep in later during the day. However, some experts advise against this. While it’s true that this method might help you make up for some of your lost sleep throughout the week, the practice of sleeping in on weekends, or sleep binging, can result in increased confusion and even symptoms that are similar to jetlag.
Furthermore, sleeping in during the weekends might even increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and more. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism actually established a direct link between people with irregular sleeping patterns and low levels of health.
Taking naps throughout the day, on the other hand, can actually be beneficial to the human body. While it’s obviously better to receive the recommended amount of sleep every single night, daily naps can be used as an effective means of relaxing, restoring stamina, increasing awareness and improving our moods.
In fact, people in some regions, particularly those in warmer climates, utilize daily naps as a means of maintaining productivity throughout the day. Sometimes referred to as siestas, these naps are enjoyed by entire cities, states and, in some cases, whole countries.
However, those who nap too frequently are at a greater risk of disease and other kinds of health conditions. Napping more than once a day over the course of a prolonged basis can even serve as a warning sign of underlying health conditions, including depression, sleep apnea and even cancer.
Sleeping in Late
Inadvertent oversleeping can cause real problems for those who have a daily schedule to maintain. However, the practice can even lead to an increased risk of stroke in older people. According to a recent study that was done in the United Kingdom, which focused on people aged 42 to 81, those who sleep more than eight hours per night are at a 46 percent higher risk of stroke.
Sticking to Our Biological Clocks
Another study, this one done in early 2016 and published in Science Advances, states that our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, are responsible for the time we wake up every morning. Despite this fact, the study reports that environmental and societal restraints, including the lack of sunlight, daily responsibilities and social norms, are still the driving factors behind our nightly bedtimes.
If you find you have difficulty waking up in the morning, regardless of your biological clock, there are a number of tricks you can do in order to make the process a little bit easier. For starters, trying using an alarm clock that offers a subtle ring as opposed to the classic alarm clock noise. Instead of jolting you awake first thing in the morning, this type of alarm will ease your mind into an awakened state.
Moreover, try not to hit the snooze button on your new alarm clock. This is a habit many of us fall into, but this practice can actually cause our bodies a lot more harm than good. Apart from confusing the functions of your brain and body, which results in a phenomenon known as sleep inertia, waking up at a different time each day can wreak havoc on your biological clock.
Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule
As you can see, there a number of valid reasons why you should be sticking to a regular sleep schedule. While naps can certainly help you get through the day, they are no substitute for a good night’s sleep. With that in mind, those who are unable to attain a full night’s sleep, or those find themselves napping more than once a day, should consult with a doctor to ensure there are no serious health conditions.