There are few things more frustrating than waking up exhausted. After all, isn’t that the entire point of sleeping — to wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day?
But unfortunately, that isn’t the case for most Americans. A recent study conducted by OnePoll found 65% of Americans say they rarely wake up feeling rested and energized. That’s nearly two out of three people walking around. Yikes.
That might sound harmless for the most part, but sleep deprivation, one of the key reasons people wake up feeling lethargic, can lead to real health consequences, from ….
Fortunately, there are a few ways to improve your sleep and curb that tired feeling in the morning. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who rarely feels rested and energized, don’t stop reading now. Let’s dive in a bit deeper, look at why this is a problem, and review some tips on how to feel more energized in the morning.
Survey Says: Poor Sleep Leads to Drop in Productivity, Bad Mood
OnePoll, a marketing research company based in London, conducted an online survey of 2,000 American adults and how they usually feel when they wake up in the morning. The results were unsettling.
For example, 42% of Americans said they feel tired by noon each day. In other words, by lunchtime, they’re already needing to take a nap! And for the nearly two-thirds of respondents mentioned above who said they feel rarely well-rested, 74% said daytime sleepiness impacts their productivity.
On top of that, approximately 50% of the respondents said they’re usually in a bad mood due to poor sleep.
What’s the driving force behind these results? Sleep deprivation, which occurs when someone doesn’t get enough sleep to feel alert and well-rested. About half of the survey’s respondents said they’re not sleeping enough.
And that makes sense, considering the survey results closely mirror the common signs of sleep deprivation. If you’re not familiar with sleep deprivation, here are a few common symptoms:
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation:
- Memory lapses
- A hard time learning new concepts or processing information
- Reduced sex drive
Left alone, sleep deprivation can lead to even worse health consequences.
Related: Americans Are Constantly Sleepy
Sleep Deprivation Makes You Accident Prone and More Vulnerable to Illness
First off, multiple studies have shown sleep deprivation leads people to being more accident-prone. That doesn’t mean you’re a little more likely to stub your toe on the coffee table, either. Sleep deprivation increases your risk of serious injuries or death.
One study, published in the journal Sleep in 2018, found drivers who slept for six hours the previous night were 30% more likely to be responsible for a car crash, compared to people who got 7-9 hours of sleep the night before. For drivers who reported five hours of sleep the night before, the data was even more stark, showing a 90% higher likelihood to be responsible for a crash. And for those running on only four hours of sleep, they’re nearly three times as likely to be responsible for a crash.
Fatigue is also a prime factor when it comes to injuring yourself at work. Workers who are very sleepy are 70% more likely to injure themselves on the job, according to The National Sleep Foundation. In short: you’re more accident-prone because sleep deprivation diminishes your alertness.
Sleep deprivation also hurts our body’s ability to fight back against illnesses. That’s because sleep critically fosters T Cell production; T Cells are white blood cells that play a big part in the immune system’s response to viruses. Their activation allows the immune system to attack and destroy virus-carrying cells. But research has shown insufficient sleep curtails T Cell production — and puts us at greater risk of getting sick. With the coronavirus going around, that’s the last thing we need.
Researchers from the University of California pointed to a similar pattern. Participants who reported at least seven hours of sleep each night were much less likely to catch the common cold, while those averaging six hours of sleep or less during the week were 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold.
3 Easy Tips to Get Better Sleep
- Develop a Consistent Sleep Schedule: consistency is key, especially when it comes to quality sleep. Our bodies function better when we stick to a consistent sleep schedule. This doesn’t mean you have to fall asleep and wake up at precisely the same time each day, either. Harvard University has recommended keeping your daily bedtime and wake up time within a half hour of the previous night. So for example, if you go to bed at 11:30 p.m. most nights, but go to sleep at 11:55 p.m. one night, you’re okay — you’re still within your 30 minute window. This was a problem for the participants in the OnePoll survey, with only 37% of respondents saying they stick to a consistent sleep schedule. For more info on how sticking to a regular sleep schedule benefits your health, read my recent post on the topic.
- Limit Blue Light Exposure: I know it’s easy to get caught up reading an article on your phone right before bed or sending a few emails from your laptop before calling it a night. Those last few minutes of electronic stimulation can really hamper your ability to get quality sleep, however. That’s because blue light, which radiates from our favorite devices, is a major sleep roadblock. Blue light not only suppresses melatonin production, an important hormone that facilitates sleep, but also alters our circadian rhythms. That’s a rough combo. Ideally you should avoid using your electronic devices about an hour before falling asleep. But I know that’s easier said than done, so you might want to check out the blue light-blocking glasses I designed to help people get to sleep faster.
- Avoid Long Naps: To be clear, I’m not anti-napping. In fact, I think naps are great, when they’re done properly. The problem is when naps extend past 90 minutes. Long naps throw off your internal sleep/wake rhythm and can interfere with your ability to get a full night of sleep. If you’ve been taking longer naps, but haven’t been getting more than a few hours of sleep each night when you go to bed, you’ll want to switch to a “power nap” that’s only about 30 minutes long.
One last thing: If you need a little help falling asleep each night, give Sleep Doctor PM a try. It’s a sleep aid I developed using only natural ingredients that help the body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, including melatonin and magnesium. A few sprays under your tongue before bedtime and you should be asleep in no time!