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Causes & Effects of Sleep Deprivation

We eat right, we exercise and we are mindful of others, but when it comes to sleep, we just aren’t making it happen. If we have a better understanding of the reasons for our lack of quality of sleep, then perhaps we can pay as much attention to getting enough sleep as we do to our exercise and nutrition. What can we do to get a better night’s sleep?

Experts believe that the average adult needs 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night in order to function at their very best. According to a 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 75% of adults had at least one symptom of a lesser sleep problem such as waking up from using the bathroom or snoring, while 54% had symptoms of insomnia, 10-15% of whom were suffering from chronic insomnia. It’s clear that the majority of Americans have a hard time sleeping soundly through the night, as as a country, the pharmaceutical industry is generates an annual $2 billion on sleep aids alone. 

A lack of sleep each night means lack of focus during the day.  The resulting lack of energy during the day can lead to reaching for quick-fix sugary foods to give energy, and a regular lack of sleep dicipline can lead to depression, anxiety, even paranoia and heart disease.  This cycle prevents us from leading more productive, happy, quality lives and a lack of sleep leaves significant cracks in the foundation of our overall wellness.

It may shock you to know that one of the more common causes of sleep deprivation stems directly from self-discipline. We skimp on sleep to take care of the many other things that we somehow aren’t able to squeeze in during the day. Stress is also a big one. Are you eating too late? Drinking caffeine in the afternoon? Getting up in the night to use the bathroom, triggering your mind to wake up and run through your ongoing list of to-dos? 

Think about it, we devote a third of our lives to sleep. We pride ourselves on going to the gym before work, getting up early and fixing a healthy breakfast and spending quality time with our family and friends. However, when it comes to sleep, why do make excuses and try and squeeze in one more show, or one last browse through social media, or even read one more article when it comes time to turn off the lights when it’s clearly so important?

As a busy mom, I get it. The kids are (hopefully) finally asleep and at last it’s your time; that moment that you’ve been waiting for all day that is completely yours. What are you going to choose to do with it?  

At XPT, we focus on evolution rather than revolution. It takes 21 days to create a healthy habit, so for the next 21 days let’s choose to turn off the lights, snuggle up to your loved one for some quality parent intimacy, which will also help you sleep, instead of grabbing for the remote.  I promise you’ll be more productive the next day, which will ultimately mean more you time and a healthier and happier day. As an added bonus, your relationship will be stronger for it, too!  CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR XPT WEEKLY LIFESTYLE CHALLENGES

There are so many reasons why we don’t sleep. Here are a few:

  1. Stress.  You overthink all of the things that you need to do tomorrow. I have a friend who calls it “The Committee.”  She’ll say, “The committee was very busy last night overthinking and telling me all the things I should do better and I didn’t sleep.”  In the light of day, these problems all seem smaller. As a solution, my friend decided to keep a notebook by the side of her bed and write down all of the things that seem so incredibly pressing so that she, and The Committee, would go to sleep and face them one by one with more energy in the morning.

  2. Alcohol or caffeine.  Are you drinking coffee after lunch to wake yourself back up? This is a vicious cycle that can be broken by making one small change.  Studies show that people who avoid caffeinated beverages after lunch and alcoholic beverages within 3 hours of bedtime will fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than those who did. Sure, that glass of wine after the kids go to sleep will make you feel relaxed, but you’ll wake up in a sweat three hours later making it ineffective and counterproductive.

  3. Awakened during the night and can’t go back to sleep.  Are you hungry at midnight? Do you have a child or a pet that wakes you up in the middle of the night on a regular basis?  Sleep training isn’t just for babies anymore, it’s also for you, your pets and your older children, too. Talk about the importance of a full night’s rest with your child and set up a bed or crate in your room for your pet so that they can get a good night sleep, too.  Avoid liquids before bedtime and use the bathroom before lights out, even if you don’t feel the urge. If you do find that you’re hungry in the middle of the night, try having a small, high-protein snack just before going to bed to sustain you, such as a hard-boiled egg.

  4. Snoring bed buddy.  Is your spouse shaking the house with snores? It isn’t helping him or her either! Encourage them to see a doctor to evaluate whether or not there is an issue with his or her breathing passages. Sleep apnea could be the cause and in addition to preventing him or her from getting quality sleep, it can also be very dangerous.  If everything is clear, then have them try Breathe Right nose strips or special pillows that help to angle the neck and open the airways for smooth sailing ahead. Also, one of the easiest fixes for a sleeping spouse is to ask them to sleep on their side instead of on their backs. Your spouse will breathe easier and you’ll both get some quality REMs.  According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, when one person’s sleep apnea or snoring is treated, his or her spouse will also get an average of one more hour of sleep each night!

  5. Too bright in your room or your room is messy.  Set up your room as a sanctuary that encourages rest and relaxation. Get rid of the TV, get rid of devices or clocks that are brightly lit and paperwork that is causing anxiety. If you have a street light outside your window invest in some good blackout curtains and an eye mask. The way you’ll feel when you enter your bedroom will be lighter, which will help to prepare your body for a good night’s rest.

Try this nightly meditation:

One of the things that I like to do prior to falling asleep, or even if I wake up in the night and need to get back to sleep, is return to my XPT Performance Breathing™ practice or to meditate. The goal of this meditation is to ease your body and mind into sleep. There are many ways to meditate that fit your personal needs and schedule; here’s one method:

– Get yourself completely comfortable in bed, on your back.

– Clear your mind and focus only on the task at hand, which is letting go.

– When you’re ready, tighten every muscle in your body, from your eyebrows to your toes.  

– Once you’re tight, hold and focus as you gradually relax one muscle at a time starting with your feet.  

– Relax one foot, then the other foot. Move to one calf and then the other, up to one knee and then the other, following up to the buttocks, the belly, the chest, the hands, the arms, the neck and shoulders, and lastly, your face. Practice very slow, deep breathing as you go through this process and at the end you’ll find yourself to be more relaxed and ready to ease into sleep.


Sweet Dreams,


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