How many times have you turned up to a job interview, first date or important meeting with puffy eyes and a light head? Felt your concentration slip whilst talking, stumbled over your words and known that there was no way you could recover?
Scenarios like this are all too common for people experiencing sleep deprivation causes and effects. Not getting enough sleep interferes with your mental cognition, physical coordination, emotional stability and self confidence.
It’s bizarre that despite this obvious debility, our work-oriented lifestyle is powered by the myth that getting less sleep can make us more productive.
This simply isn’t true. Sleep allows your brain to recover and regenerate; resulting in improved memory, better concentration and faster learning. It even boosts your immunity, as your body has enough time to strengthen overnight. As the old saying goes:
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.’
— Irish proverb
On the flip side, inadequate sleep leaves your brain and body compromised. Amongst other things, a lack of shut eye has been linked to fatal car accidents, poor job performance, weight gain and depression.
It’s clear that we need to take the treatment for sleep deprivation into our own hands and start considering it a legitimate health concern. Read on to find out how to improve your sleep and get those extra zzz’s you’ve been dreaming of.
So, how much sleep do you need?
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night to be able to function effectively the next day. Although you may survive on far less sleep than this, your body won’t ever adjust to the deficiency. And as a result you’ll end up tired for days, weeks, months and years on end.
And, why can't you sleep?
Many things could be making it hard to fall, or stay, asleep. It’s common for lifestyle factors such as eating habits, exercise and use of technology to contribute to sleepless nights. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can also make it difficult to fall asleep.
Teeth and jaw problems interrupt sleep by causing breathing difficulties or pain. They’re also closely linked to teeth grinding and sleep apnea; a condition which involves periodically stopping breathing throughout the night.
This is a great chart to outline the science of sleeping and what's happening when you do actually catch some ZZZ's.Filed at Infographicsposters.com in Health Infographics.
So... how to improve sleep, you ask?
1. Develop a healthy routine
Make sure you build a healthy night time routine. Setting the tone for a good night’s rest is the least you can do to facilitate a solid 8 hours of shut eye. Make sure you set an alarm to wake up at the same time each morning. A pro tip is to soak up some fresh sunlight as soon as you get up - this will restart your body clock and kickstart your new routine.
Another good idea is to stop snacking late at night, as the extra energy consumed may be a cause of sleep deprivation. Aim to exercise regularly during the day in order to tire out your body and prepare it for rest.
2. Limit Screen Time
To start off, try turning off all your devices at least one hour before going to bed at the same time every night for a week. Turning off your devices is crucial as blue light emitted by tablets, laptops, smartphones and TV’s has been shown to interfere with healthy sleep patterns. If you have to work late on your laptop, or can’t avoid using your phone late at night, you can try using a blue light diffusing app to minimise their impact.
3. Recognise medical issues
If you’ve tried to develop a healthy routine but are still struggling to sleep, you may have a more serious problem on your hands than an out of whack body clock. At this stage it’s important to consider what’s interrupting your sleep. If you lie awake feeling tense or worried, anxiety or other mental health issues may be the problem. In this situation it’s important to talk to a trusted friend or family member and a doctor straight away.
On the other hand, if you wake up to a sore jaw, scratchy throat or your partner complaining that your snoring kept them awake all night, you aren’t just a “bad sleeper.” These are all signs that your teeth are keeping you awake. The same goes for grinding your teeth, migraines and breathing out your mouth instead of your nose. It’s important to recognise and listen to these warning signs, because you can’t fix an issue you don’t realise is there.
The most common teeth related problems during the night are jaw clenching, teeth grinding (bruxism), migraines and sleep apnea. These are caused by problems such as crowded teeth and jaw misalignment (and may still be present if you had braces as a child).
If you think you might have a jaw or teeth related problem, visiting a qualified Orthodontist is essential. Simple treatment plans such as night time mouthguards can help you get a great night’s sleep. An Orthodontist will be able to easily diagnose (and treat) problems like teeth grinding or breathing difficulty.
The changing face of Orthodontics
Orthodontic treatments are no longer purely motivated by aesthetics. As the benefits of being well rested become clear, more and more adults are seeking a straighter, healthier smile to improve sleep quality.
Adult braces treatments such as Invisalign are making it easier than ever to boost quality of life through an improved night’s sleep. A major benefit of Invisalign is its non-invasive, invisible treatment of problematic health issues. If you want to learn more about improving your sleep quality without undergoing complex medical procedures, take at look at the roadmap to Invisalign below.