You know that tired-all-the-time feeling you have? Say goodbye to it once and for all! Here’s the deal: Americans sleep about 7 hours a night. That’s 1 to 2 fewer hours per night than we got 40 years ago. And these days, when we DO hit the sack, sleep doesn’t always come easily. So we spend the next day walking around like zombies. But what’s even worse than feeling run-down is that a lack of sleep can do SERIOUS damage to our health. It can affect our appetite, cause weight gain, increase the risk of diabetes and weaken our immune system. So, here are 2 big causes of sleep deprivation and what to do about them, courtesy of Health magazine.
- Insomnia. This is when you have a problem sleeping even though you have the opportunity. You can’t get to sleep quickly, and you wake up often and way to early when you do. Acute insomnia, which lasts a day or two, can happen to anyone and is no big deal. But CHRONIC insomnia means going through this for more than 30 days, and about 3% of Americans have it. So how do you fight it? For starters, go to bed and get up at the SAME TIME every day. And don’t eat, drink, smoke or exercise close to bedtime. Also, over the counter sleep-aids usually have an antihistamine that can help. But if you try all these solutions and you STILL can’t sleep, see your doctor. They can prescribe something stronger, or recommend behavior and relaxation techniques to help you get the rest you need.
- Restless leg syndrome, or RLS. This is a neurological disorder that can cause itchy, crawly, tingly feelings in your legs. And if you have to move all the time, it’s hard to lie down and go to sleep. Also, there’s a genetic link. If a relative has it, you’re 3 to 5 times more likely to get it. And while there’s no test to diagnose RLS, your doctor can figure out if you have it by looking at your medical history and checking your “ferritin” levels. This is a protein that stores iron in the body. If your levels are low, you could be at risk for RLS. But the fix could be as easy as taking iron supplements. So talk to your doctor.