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How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

  • August 8, 2011
  • 5:01 pm
  • 1 of 2
How to Recover From a Sleep Deficit

Economic woes keep many of us awake, but you can give yourself a bedtime bailout package.

By Jeffrey Rossman, PhD,

Can’t sleep? If you find yourself looking up at the ceiling at 3 am thinking about your financial future, know that you are not alone. A third of Americans say that they have been losing sleep over the state of the economy and personal financial concerns, according to the results of a poll released last month by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The economy has added to the already epidemic number of Americans experiencing sleep difficulties: 72 percent of American adults report sleeping less than 8 hours a night, up from 62 percent in 2001. And 20 percent of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours a night, up from 13 percent in 2001.

The doctor-recommended cure for stress.

Losing sleep does more than make you tired. Insufficient sleep is related to numerous cognitive, emotional, and medical conditions, including impaired concentration and anxiety, depression, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, as well as memory and immune dysfunction. Sleep deprivation is a public-safety issue as well, causing tens of thousands of car and truck accidents every year. In the recent NSF poll, 54 percent of drivers said they had driven while drowsy at least once during the past year, and 28 percent said they had nodded off or fallen asleep while driving a vehicle. When sleep-deprived subjects are brought into the lab to perform a driving simulation, they perform more poorly than intoxicated subjects.

7 Surprising ways lack of sleep affects your health.

WHAT IT MEANS: If you are one of the millions of people who are not getting the sleep you need, there are several strategies you can use to improve your sleep:

1. Stick to a schedule.

Do your best to fall sleep at about the same time each night and wake up at about the same time each morning, weekends included. Your body does best with a regular sleep-wake rhythm.

2. Stay away from food and alcohol.

Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before going to bed. Avoid drinking alcohol late in the evening. While a drink or two might relax you at first and help you fall asleep, the effect can wear off during the night, causing a rebound alertness that can wake you up and make it hard to get back to sleep.

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Rodale is a new original source for daily news, information, and advice on personal and environmental health. focuses on “Where Health Meets Green” topics, providing daily news stories and breaking news along with easy-to-follow, high-impact tips and advice.


+ add your own
1:18AM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

good advise.

7:04PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

I you try to concentrate on two things at once and breath deeply enough to expand your rib cage from the bottom very slowly it's amazing how your mind goes to sleep.

4:20PM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

These are great tips as long as everyone you live with keeps the noise down so you can actually sleep. I'm not so lucky.

9:23PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011


3:43AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

This is all very well, but as other people already mentioned, sometimes there are less than 8 hours between the end of one day and the beginning of the next, so, even if you fall asleep immediately and wake up only when the alarm sounds (for the third time... ;-)) you will never get enough sleep... But ok, I admit the article could not contain any time magic to solve this problem. Any suggestions, anyway?

12:17AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

i am the other way round i need more sleep

6:45PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Im a insominac froma child not a gud sleeper. Now wiv lifs stresses im worse.

5:29AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

I fall asleep as soon as I have eaten can be a sandwich ,can be midday, affecting my sleep at night .Apparently apnea can cause heart problems rather than be a cause .I had sudden cardiac arrest 6 years ago. As a teenager had the opposite slept so deeply people thought committed suicide.Suspect that was due to hormonal imbalance . I have noticed this happens to more than me most teenagers sleep late & most over 50's wake early ??!!

2:09AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Useful information.

8:34PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

I don't know about not eating for 3 hours before bed. You can't fall asleep if you are hungry.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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