Many Americans struggle with the basic necessity of sleeping at night—which has a high cost on the quality of their health and careers.
- A 2020 study from the Centers For Disease Control found that 14.5% of adults had difficulties falling asleep more or every day within the past 30 days.
- A June Gallup poll similarly found that 14% of adults report being too hot while they sleep and 6% were too cold.
- Women are prone to worse symptoms, with 20% regularly struggling about being too hot at night.
- 57% of overall respondents say that heat occasionally affects them, while 37% say cold does.
- The three most popular causes of sleeplessness are repeated bathroom use (43%), physical discomfort (29%), and uncomfortable temperatures (22%).
Why It’s Important
Sleep is critical to physical health, mental health, career, energy levels, and general well-being. It is also easy to disturb or unsettle through lifestyle choices or stress. During the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety skyrocketed during the pandemic, but those who got quality sleep had lower levels than those with poor sleep—meaning that sleep can aid or worsen many of life’s problems.
The negative side effects of poor sleep quality can also be highly serious, including increased rates of stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, frustration, overeating, and lowered motivation and concentration. A lack of sleep can also make individuals more disease-prone, increasing chances of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, inflammation, and doubled rates of colds and flu.
“The impairment of performance caused by 20–25 hours of sleeplessness [per week] is comparable to drinking alcohol to a 0.1% blood alcohol concentration,” The International Journal of Occupational Medicine reports.
“Quality sleep is the number one remedy to help you heal and overcome mental health issues … Those who rate their mental health as excellent or very good are 6 [times] more likely to get high-quality sleep at night,” says The Growth Lab Host Josh Axe. “You really want to think about how you can get better sleep at night. We’ve all been in this situation when you get a really poor night of sleep and are cranky the next day.”
As Dr. Josh Axe notes in his recent episode of The Growth Lab, not everybody’s sleep issues are caused by the same problems. Some people struggle with discomfort from hot or cold issues. Other people suffer from underlying health issues. Solutions for sleeplessness are rooted ultimately in the cause of the issue but are thankfully plentiful.
The daily ideal for proper sleeping is eight hours of sleep with one hour of REM sleep or deep sleep. To attain this, it is important to address the inability to get to sleep while working on issues that disrupt deep sleep.
The first thing to do is to remove conditions that harm sleep. While medical conditions, medicine side effects, busy schedules, and life obligations cannot always be easily fixed, there are easy first steps to take. Lowering alcohol, caffeine, and food consumption in the hours before bed can all have an effect on the body’s ability to achieve deeper sleep. Daily alcohol consumption alone decreases sleep quality by 40%.
Building Better Habits
Building healthy habits involves understanding the body’s circadian rhythms—building a natural sleep schedule that works with natural life and helps the body reattain its healthiest rhythms. This can involve sleeping in a dark room with blackout curtains, avoiding cell phone or television screens and blue light after dinnertime, going to bed earlier, and exercising in the morning. Exercising just 20 minutes a day can help the body sleep better.
“Wake up when the sun starts to rise, and go outside for 10 to 30 minutes, go on a walk. It starts to balance hormones so your body knows cortisol needs to come up, melatonin needs to come down, and it helps your body prepare for the following night,” says Axe.
Maintaining a proper temperature in the bedroom is also vital. Heat impacts sleep quality, so keeping a room between 60 to 65 degrees can help. Sleeping under weighted blankets can also help the brain psychologically to feel comfortable as it goes to sleep. Taking cold showers before bed can also help regulate body temperature.