Losing an hour of sleep is awful and mess up my entire night routine. I am perpetually tired anyway, so anytime I’m forced to give up precious snoozing hours is like a dagger to my poor brain. The time changes really do a number on me and you’d think that in fall, gaining an hour, I’d feel revived and refreshed and ready to go. Nope. I have developed a wicked case of insomnia and am always trying to stay a step ahead of it. For whatever reason, the fall gain an hour kicked my insomnia into high gear. This was a new one for me and it took weeks to regain my equilibrium.
In spring, losing an hour just means a really foggy brain. Oh, and a sprinkle of insomnia as the first day after the time change, I was wide awake at 4am. Why? Who knows, it makes no sense.
I value my sleep and as I’ve gotten older, I realize that I need more sleep than other people. I wish I didn’t, but the reality is, I cannot function like a normal person without a solid eight hours of sleep, although nine is idea. But, who has that much time to sleep? Not me. And, by chance, if I get that opportunity, insomnia is right there crashing down on my happy dreams.
Why Some People Need More Sleep Than Others
It kills me that I can’t be one of those people who pop up after six hours feeling ready to take on the day. At least I have genetics to blame for it and there IS a name for the 2 percent of people who need at least 10 hours of sleep a night.
They are called long sleepers. I don’t consider myself one, because in a perfect world I could get 8-9 hours of sleep per night and be okay. Long sleepers actually can sleep up to 12-15 hours on their weekend due to having shortened sleep time during the work week. Interestingly enough, the more I read on long sleepers, the length of sleep did vary and some research says if people need 9 hours of regular sleep. Well, that’s definitely me. Also, just as intriguing is that there seems to be a link between introverted personalities and long sleepers due to a chemical released during social interactions that potentially exhaust them more.
Quality of Sleep
If you have a newborn or a puppy, you understand that quality of sleep just isn’t there at the moment. Sleeping undisturbed for eight hours is in a completely different universe than sleeping for eight hours with constant disruptions.
Those with depression and/or anxiety might struggle to get enough sleep as they try to quiet their minds at bedtime.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
It’s amazing what can happen to the human body when it can’t get enough sleep. There are so many physical and mental struggles to face with sleep deprivation. One of the things I’m always told during my weight loss journey was to get enough sleep, because lack of sleep can affect weight loss. It can do so much more though:
Mood Swings – Patience levels drop and it’s common to become more short tempered.
Difficulty Concentrating – This is when I can really just binge watch because anything else requires too much concentration.
Memory Issues – The ability to remember things becomes compromised.
Weakened Immunity – It’s harder to fight off viruses when sleep deprived.
Weight Gain – Lack of sleep affects two important hormones associated with weight loss/gain. It causes your body to make less leptin and more ghrelin. Leptin tells your body when you’re full, and ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. So, there’s a great one two punch in the wrong direction.
The end result is that there’s only so much you can do to make sure you get enough sleep. The most important thing anyone can do is set a bedtime routine and stick with it. A good bedtime routine consists of:
- Don’t eat or drink too close to bedtime
- Getting to bed at the same time each night
- Powering down electronics
- If you read using a Kindle or other device, setting the backlight as low as you can
- Try to get up at the same time each morning
- Use White Noise – a fan or a sound machine can help drown out nighttime sounds
Making Adjustments for Sleep Issues
I have struggled getting enough sleep my whole life. It’s rare that I don’t feel perpetually tired, beyond the normal daily living. Some days I live in a fog, and many days I must take a nap.
In the past year or two, after I broke down and went to the doctor to get a prescription sleep aid, I have really become more serious about my bedtime routine.
I have quit going out late, because I cannot physically handle the next day. It takes me two to three days of sleep and napping to feel normal. I hate that feeling. So, I rarely go out at night.
I try to be in bed at the same time every night, and I’m working on not even looking at electronics once I climb into bed. If I do, I make myself turn them off and still read for at least thirty minutes before going to sleep. The reading really helps me decompress.
I try to get up around the same time every day. I don’t sleep in, I never have, so it’s not too difficult. Some morning I get up a couple hours earlier to go to the gym. I’m trying to reconcile that difference down to an hour, but it’s an ongoing struggle.
Sleep is one of those non-negotiable things in life and it’s paramount to our overall health to get the sleep we need in order to function regularly the next day, which is why I hope that at some point California becomes like Arizona and Hawaii and quits changing the time twice a year!