Not getting enough sleep is not only harmful to your health but can also be extremely frustrating!
1. The problem: overworking yourself
Dr Kevin Rosman, a Joburg-based clinical sleep doctor, says one of the most common causes of sleep deprivation is trying to fit too much work into your day. ‘There’s a perception that you’re somehow “better” if you can work an 18-hour stretch, and many businesses still think that working long hours is desirable. After a certain number of hours your brain actually stops functioning efficiently,’ he says.
Work smart and be productive so that you can get through your workload without having to put in extra-long hours. ‘Spending some time on a relaxing or pleasant activity or hobby in the evenings between finishing dinner and getting ready for bed helps you displace some of the stresses of the day from your mind and mentally prepare for sleep,’ says Dr Rosman.
2. The problem: bad bedtime habits
By going to bed and waking up at irregular times, your body doesn’t get a chance to develop a routine, and this plays havoc with your body clock. This can cause you to feel tired even after you’ve had enough sleep, or make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night because you think you’re not tired.
‘Go to bed and get up at the same time,’ advises Dr Rosman. ‘Try to keep sleep-ins to a minimum. Keep a regular bedtime routine each night: a relaxing bath, brushing your teeth, and then reading a few pages of a book for instance. This allows your brain to wind down and prepare for sleep.’
3. The problem: too much tech
‘For an hour or so before bedtime, your brain needs to relax and prepare for sleep,’ says Dr Rosman. ‘If you focus on stimulating activities that cause more arousal or excitement, you’ll struggle to sleep. The blue background on your phone or tablet has a light frequency that causes arousal so it’s best to limit your use of these devices for up to two hours before bed.’ He also advises that you avoid watching TV shows with excessive violence or graphic content close to bedtime as these will keep you awake.
While Dr Rosman advises against stimulating activities close to bedtime, he notes that if your hobby is gardening, for instance, and you watch a gardening programme, it might relax you, even though it’s stimulating. ‘If you struggle to stay away from smart devices before bed, there are apps and settings that give the screen a yellow tinge and filter out
the blue background,’ he says. There are also yellow lensed glasses that you can wear for about two hours before bed to filter the blue light, if you’re a bit more adventurous!
FEATURE: CANDICE CURTIS PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM