Your internal clock can be disrupted by factors such as nightshift work, traveling across time zones, or irregular sleeping patterns—leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times. The production of melatonin can also be thrown off when you’re deprived of sunlight during the day or exposed to too much artificial light at night—especially the light from electronic devices, including TVs, computers, tables, and mobile phones.
Even if you’ve enjoyed a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed can be difficult if your alarm goes off when you’re in the middle of deep sleep (Stage N3). If you want to make mornings less painful—or if you know you only have a limited time for sleep—try setting a wake-up time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes, the length of the average sleep cycle. For example, if you go to bed at 10 p.m., set your alarm for 5:30 (a total of 7 ½ hours of sleep) instead of 6:00 or 6:30. You may feel more refreshed at 5:30 than with another 30 to 60 minutes of sleep because you’re getting up at the end of a sleep cycle when your body and brain are already close to wakefulness.
It’s not just the number of hours in bed that’s important—it’s the quality of those hours of sleep. Each stage of sleep in the sleep cycle offers benefits to the sleeper. However, deep sleep (Stage N3) and REM sleep are particularly important. A normal adult spends approximately 50% of total sleep time in Stage 2 sleep, 20% in REM sleep, and 30% in the remaining stages, including deep sleep.
The most damaging effects of sleep deprivation are from inadequate deep sleep. Deep sleep is a time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system. In order to wake up energized and refreshed, getting quality deep sleep is essential.
A table of the average sleep requirement is shown below:
Newborn to 2 months old 12 – 18 hrs
3 months to 1 year old 14 – 15 hrs
1 to 3 years old 12 – 14 hrs
3 to 5 years old 11 – 13 hrs
5 to 12 years old 10 – 11 hrs
12 to 18 years old 8.5 – 10 hrs
Adults (18+) 7.5 – 9 hrs
Below are some causes of inadequate sleep
1. Being woken up during the night
Sleep interruption is one of the major causes of sleep deprivation; some individuals are unable to resume sleep while others do so after a long time. The total sleep period for the night is therefore drastically reduced.
2. Working night shifts or swing shifts.
A lot of people are on permanent night shift or alternate night and day; the brain on the other hand is programmed for sleep at night not during the day. Consequently those who do night shifts are sleep deprived.
3. Smoking or drinking in the evening
Substances like alcohol and nicotine can disrupt deep sleep. It’s best to limit them before bed time. This also applies to some sedatives and sleeping medicine
Stress which is usually characterised by anxiety and depression affects sleep negatively. Anxiety may be due to work, school, family issues, relationships, health etc while depression may result from divorce, break-up with a spouse, rejection, death of loved one, illness of family member/friend, job loss etc
Certain drugs affect the length and quality of sleep; some cause complete sleeplessness. Known drugs include amphetamines and constituents of some energy drinks.
6. Medical conditions
Certain illnesses can affect sleep pattern, in some cases what takes the patient to hospital is inability to sleep with examination and tests revealing the underlying cause(s).
Older adults often have trouble sleeping long at night at a stretch which may not be unconnected with the fact that they tend to wee more at night, daytime naps are advised to help fill in the gap.
Forget the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least seven and a half to eight hours of sleep.
8. Change of sleeping environment
A change in sleeping environment can affect quality of sleep; for some people it is difficult to have quality sleep in a hotel room or when visiting friends or relations.
9. Heavy late night meals.
Light late snacks can be tolerated but heavy meals late at night can disturb sleep owing to the discomfort of lying on the bed with full stomach, possible regurgitation of the food and heart burn. Fatty foods are worst as digestion takes longer.
Endeavour to eat your meals before 8 pm.