Over the past few months your sleep schedule has probably experienced a lot of changes from being in quarantine and working at home to the kids returning back to school and more. Now you may feel like it’s time to go back to “normal.” Dr. Stephanie Young Moss, pharmacist, has some tips to identify if you aren’t getting enough sleep and how to get more if this is the case. Here’s more from her:
If you are constantly in a bad mood and aren’t sure why, this could be a sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Feeling exhausted throughout the day, even when you felt like you slept enough, or finding it hard to concentrate are all signs that you might be dealing with a lack of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults receive seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Even if you are in bed for what seems like seven to nine hours, that doesn’t mean you are sleeping for that amount of time or getting enough rest. Here are some signs that you are not getting enough sleep. I’ve also included a few natural ways to get more rest naturally.
You Have Lower Productivity
Lack of sleep can also affect your concentration, focus, and productivity. Maybe you notice that you can’t focus for long stretches of time anymore, or your concentration is failing quite a bit. You might have less productivity at work, and are actually suffering as a result of it.
The first thing to do when you have these issues is to figure out if something has changed recently. Start with whether or not you are getting quality of sleep. If you aren’t sure of the quality of your sleep, because it seems like you are sleeping just fine, consider these other signs of sleep deprivation as well.
Constant Bad Mood
Not getting enough sleep can make you more vulnerable to mood swings, irritability, and even anger. You might find that you are constantly in a bad mood, and don’t even know why. When this happens regularly, it is a good idea to try to figure out why this is happening.Try to take a look at your sleep pattern recently, and figure out if the mood swings started shortly after you noticed the quality declining. Remember that your mood and attitude doesn’t only affect you, but your family, friends, relationships, and other people you come in contact with everyday.
You Have an Increased Appetite
Did your appetite suddenly increase? Do you have a larger appetite than you remember having before? This can also be a big sign that you are not getting enough sleep. Your appetite changes quite a bit based on your emotional state, and whether or not you are getting adequate sleep at night.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the hunger hormone in your gut called ghrelin, can increase. This can make you feel hungrier than normal. It can also cause more cravings of sugar, refined carbs, and otherwise unhealthy food options.The increased hunger and increased cravings might decrease if you improve your quality of sleep.
Your Memory is Failing
You could also be experiencing lower memory function as a result of sleep deprivation. When you go to sleep, you go through multiple phases, with the fifth phase being REM sleep. The later phases, including stage 3 and 4, are when you enter deep sleep. All of these are important for brain function, but especially that crucial deep sleep. This is when your brain is able to hold onto memories from the day before, and use them for long-term memory storage. If you never reach deep sleep, you might start noticing major changes in your long-term memory.
What Could Be Hurting Your Sleep?
Not getting enough sleep can be a very frustrating experience, but even more frustrating is figuring out why. There is a long list of things that could affect your sleep, from your sleep hygiene and daily habits, to medications, diet, exercise, and medical conditions.
Here are some of the most common things that might be hurting your sleep:
- Sleeping Environment
- Lack of Bedtime Rituals
- Medical Conditions
- Your Diet
Natural Sleep Aids
There are several prescriptions and Over the Counter sleep aids that you can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about if your lack of sleep becomes an ongoing issue. For something you can take more on a continued basis, look at the natural options. These are not as harsh on your body and can often help with long-term sleep issues.
Let’s take a look at a few of the natural sleep aids that can be found in vitamins, minerals and in food.
This is a hormone you already have in your body that will help you decide when it is time to sleep. Unfortunately, you might have a decline in this hormone, and need to take a melatonin supplement. It is really beneficial for people who need to sleep during the day or at different times each day from a shift work schedule. Small levels of melatonin can be found in almonds and oats.
You can also try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily routine. If you are not getting enough magnesium through natural food sources, you might notice a decline in the quality of your sleep. There are different types of magnesium, from supplement pills you can take, to powder you add to your water. Almonds and bananas are also excellent sources of magnesium.
The lack of Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has been shown to affect how much and how well you sleep. This means that you may have interrupted sleep. While getting plenty of sunshine can help increase your vitamin D, many people need supplements. Small amounts of Vitamin D can also be found in fish, eggs, and fortified foods.
If you are a fan of herbs and essential oils, there are a few that can help you get better sleep. Some of the best ones are lavender, rose, and chamomile. These can be great in teas or in a diffuser.
Dr. Stephanie Young Moss is a licensed pharmacist and a certified health and nutrition life coach. Her mission is to reduce health disparities by providing families across the world with practical wellness tips that are both attainable and sustainable.
This information is not provided by a medical doctor. Dr. Stephanie Young Moss cannot be held liable for the information written here. It is meant to provide information only. It is not intended to provide medical advice. Do not use it as an alternative to seeking help from your physician.