“Sleepy and Tired” is brought to us by our partner & fellow blogger, Marilyn Katz whose normal gig is at BoomBaby, which is a site that focuses on empowering Baby Boomers to make positive life changes
Some people can thrive on less than 8 hours of sleep per night, but most of us cannot. In fact, polls conducted by the National Sleep foundation report that twenty percent of Americans do not even get 6 hours of sleep per day. Some people try to subsist on inadequate sleep at night, and then get “catch up” sleep on the week-ends. This habit may allow sleep deprived Americans to function, but probably only adds to a chronic problem.
As a self-employed online publisher, with contacts around the world, I find myself doing a lot of business with people on very different time schedules than my own. Add to that the demands of raising kids and conducting personal business. This means I have many days when I stay up too late, start work too early, and just absolutely have to have an afternoon nap so I can function. Some folks may envy my ability to nap late in the afternoon, but not the demands to be online late at night or early in the morning.
At first, I put down my need for naps to my schedule, or maybe even the fact that I was getting older. But I also noticed that on days, when I could take off, and spend the day engaged in physical activity, my body did not demand a catnap. In fact, I have noticed that on days when I can engage on more activity, especially outdoor activity, I could function quite well until bed time. I also have an easier time falling asleep at a normal time on those days.
This led me, personally, to conclude that the problem was not all stemming from my irregular sleep schedule, but also upon a lack of other activities. Including a daily walk, which includes fresh air and sunshine, seems to make my body a lot more forgiving when I do not get eight unbroken hours of sleep!
What Is Your Personal Circadian Rhythm?
Circadian rhythms are simply defined as a daily cycle of activity that may be observed in living organisms. As members of a society, our observed rhythms may be scheduled around the routines of other members of society. For example, we may rise early to get ready for work or get children off to school. We may fall asleep at night so we can get enough sleep before we have to get up the next day. Some people, like students, doctors, parents, or online publishers, may have different routines because of the demands of their jobs, school, or personal lives.
Beyond the normal circadian rhythm, some individuals thrive by altering their schedules. A few people only need six hours of sleep. Some folks perform better when they get to bed by nine and wake up by five. Others need nine hours of sleep to function at their best. In an ideal world, I would be able to stay up late and sleep late. I am convinced that would help me sleep according to my own personal circadian rhythm. In my world, I have to stay up late sometimes, and then wake up early.
Can You Adjust To Your Own Circadian Rhythm?
Honestly, if you find yourself constantly sleep deprived, you need to find a solution that works for you. If you are not sure that your own best schedule is any more, think about your perfect sleep schedule on the week-end of vacation days. That may help you figure out your ideal sleep patterns. Try to arrange your own responsibilities around your most productive hours, and your sleep time around your natural downtime. If your job or other obligations prevent you from adjusting your sleeping hours to a perfect sleep schedule, you may still need to find some ways to compromise.
Chronic sleep deprivation can ruin your health, reduce your productivity, and it might even be dangerous. You should not operate a vehicle or attend to young children if your eyes keep shutting on you! Sleep deprivation could even aggravate diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. Your lack of sleep could make you sick, injured, or negligent.
Can You Get Your Body To Forgive Some Lapses In Sleep Patterns?
You may also find, as I did, that a bit of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise can help you become fitter. If you need to skip some time with the sandman, it will certainly help if you try to keep yourself healthy in other ways. Also consider your diet. A lot of extra weight, vitamin deficiencies, and poor nutrition will only aggravate your problems.
Finally, you may have time to fall asleep, but just find yourself unable to fall asleep when you should. After a long day of trying to accomplish three different tasks at the same time, it is hard for me to get my mind in a relaxed state so I can snooze when my schedule allows it! My doctor recommended a natural supplement with melatonin or a cup of chamomile tea. These natural solutions seem to work for me, and they do not make me feel groggy in the morning.
Ideally, you will be able to accommodate your body’s natural rhythms and adjust your sleep schedule. I understand that this may not be possible for everybody because it certainly is not always possible for me. Naps, a little exercise, vitamins, supplements, and even a better diet may help some. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the problem and just keep trying to make it through another day when you are feeling sleepy!