There’s an obvious difference between good sleep and terrible sleep. The difference between good sleep and mediocre sleep, however, isn’t always as noticeable.
Sometimes, for a range of potential reasons, the brain spends too much time in lighter sleep cycles, and not enough time in deep sleep cycles. When this happens, it might seem like you’re getting a full night’s rest when, in fact, the body is actually sleep-deprived.
Five Sure Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Good Sleep
The Sleep Academy has a simple “test” they give to determine whether participants get enough sleep. Below are five signs their sleep experts use to determine whether clients should change their sleep habits.
1. You Need an Alarm Clock to Wake Up Every Morning
Your body is trained to a particular circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). That cycle is dependent on getting enough sleep. When all is in balance, the circadian rhythm will sync itself to a combination of sun cycles and your daily patterns—no alarm clock needed.
Sleep tip: Going to bed at the same time each night is a major step in setting this natural rhythm. Since adults need about seven-to nine-hours of sleep each night, start establishing your bedtime routine eight hours ahead of when you want to wake up. Work back in 15-minute increments until you find the sweet spot—sleeping well, all night long, and waking up just ahead of the alarm.
2. It’s Really Difficult to Get Up and Out of Bed
That groggy feeling, which continues throughout the day and can even make you moody, is another way the body communicates, “I’m not rested enough…”
Sleep tip: Add a 15- to 30-minute exercise phase to the start of your morning routine, beginning with gentle stretches, to help the body wake up and oxygenate. Extra physical activity will also help reset the circadian rhythm so you’re ready for bed a little earlier each night.
3. You Get Tired While Driving
Does driving for longer than 10-minutes or so make you drowsy? Automatic drowsiness when the mind is at rest is a sign of sleep deprivation.
Sleep tip: Focus on eating nutrient rich foods and ditch processed, fat-laden and sugary snacks. Studies show that sleep deprivation causes junk food cravings, and eating those items only makes things worse. Fueling your body with nutritious and tasty foods will recharge you until sleep habits get back on track.
4. Difficulty with Short-Term Memory or Concentration
There are all kinds of things that affect memory and concentration, and sleep deprivation is one of the biggest factors. If you seem more foggy, forgetful or distracted than usual—without an obvious cause—evaluate your sleep habits.
Sleep tip: Ask your partner if you snore OR check out the WakeApp Pro, which tracks sleep cycles and records snoring bouts. Occasional snoring is normal, chronic snoring is not and deserves checking into with your physician.
5. You Fall Asleep as Soon as Your Head Hits the Pillow
This might seem like a blessing—but in fact, it’s a sign that you need more sleep. Typically, the active-and-ready-for-bed mind winds down for several minutes before succumbing to sleep. If you fall asleep the minute you close your eyes, you’re pushing the sleep-deprivation boundaries.
Sleep tip: Create screen-free time for at least 30 minutes before hitting the pillow. The blue light from TVs and gadget screens interrupt sleep-related hormone levels, which can lead to insomnia or dysfunctional sleep patterns.
Turn off electronic devices, dim the lights and create a relaxing bedtime ritual that allows you to drift off to sleep within a few minutes.
Visit The National Sleep Foundation for more information about the importance of sleep, to learn about sleep orders, or to find information on how to improve your family’s sleep habits.