4 Ways to Combat Sleep Deficiency

July 4, 2024 · John Gallagher
what is sleep deprivation

4 Ways to Fight Sleep Deficiency

A good night’s sleep means more than waking up refreshed. It allows your body to completely reset while you rest, fulfilling important physical processes while generating the energy you’ll need for the following day. A good night’s rest is an important component for healthy digestion, respiration, and mental health. Just as easily, a poor night of sleep can leave you feeling irritated, groggy, and fatigued.

Sleep deficiency is the enemy of a good night’s sleep.

If you’re sleep deficient, it means you’re not consistently getting the amount of deep sleep, or REM sleep, you need on a nightly basis. More than one night of bad sleep, sleep deficiency is generally an issue that affects your circadian rhythm and the way you function during the day.

In some cases, sleep deficiency is the direct result of a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea. For others, sleep deficiency is the byproduct of poor lifestyle choices or external challenges like a poorly-sleeping infant.

Here’s a must-have first step in addressing sleep efficiency: understand what causes it.

Where is my sleep deficiency coming from?

Sleep deficiency can stem from several possible causes. While some are related to mental health, others are recognized sleep disorders or simply sleep scheduling challenges.

Here are a few of the reasons why you might be sleep deficient:

  • Irregular sleep schedule: Students, overnight workers, and new parents all face unique challenges in maintaining a regular sleep schedule.
  • Sleep disorders: Restless leg syndrome and other sleep disorders can cause sleep deficiency as one of their main side effects.
  • Anxiety: Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can sometimes cause certain levels of sleep deficiency.
  • Lifestyle choices: High levels of caffeine consumption, poor diet and exercise habits, excessive alcohol or nicotine intake, or late-night television watching can all keep your body awake later than it should be.

Sleep deficiency doesn’t always have a single origin point. Many times, several causes combine to cause varying degrees of sleep deficiency. For example, some sleepers might face higher levels of anxiety, which prevents you from maintaining a healthy sleep schedule — both factors contributing to sleep deficiency.

Fighting sleep deficiency: 4 ways to get started

No matter the underlying cause of your sleep deficiency, there are steps you can take to address it. These steps include tracking your sleep habits, creating a better sleep environment, consulting an expert, and implementing healthy lifestyle habits.

1. Track your sleep habits

Tracking your sleep patterns is one of the best ways to examine, and improve, sleep deficiency. This practice encourages sleepers to take greater accountability for their own sleep — and the ways that it might improve or inhibit their daily life.

Here are a few of the best ways to track your sleep:

  • Use a sleep-tracking app: Certain mobile applications can track vital sleep metrics and give you detailed information about your healthiest possible sleep pattern.
  • Write in a sleep journal: Keep details of your sleep habits, including what time you went to bed and what time you woke up, in a sleep journal for reference.
  • Participate in a sleep study: Doctors often recommend sleep studies for people who want more information about their sleep habits, especially in conjunction with particular sleep disorders.

Tracking your sleep activities means keeping deliberate notes about your most important sleep metrics. Depending on your needs, here are a few specific details that might be worth tracking:

  • Sleep and wake times
  • Pre-sleep habits
  • Any sleep interruptions, along with their time and cause
  • Total sleep hours
  • Sleep movements
  • Diet before bed
  • Mood before sleeping and after waking up
  • Quality of sleep, on a scale from 1 to 10

These and other details are often the first step toward understanding, and minimizing, sleep deprivation. They can also help address the underlying cause of the deficiency itself.

2. Create a better sleep environment

If possible, reserve your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep. Participate in other activities like work, food consumption, and entertainment in other rooms of your home. Preserving your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only helps train your brain that your bedroom is a safe space for sleep.

Here are a few aspects of your bedroom that deserve attention:

  • Temperature: Keep your bedroom cool to encourage your body into a state of rest.
  • Lighting: Dim bedroom lighting as sleep approaches.
  • Noise: If possible, drown out background noise with white noise or simply by closing your windows.
  • Comfort: Invest in high-quality pillow and blanket options.

It's also important to make your bed a phone-free zone. Put your phone on the charger, set an alarm if necessary, and then put it out of your line of sight. This helps avoid any temptations to pick your phone back up after you’re already in bed. It also helps your eyes avoid blue light, which can delay melatonin production and directly contribute to sleep deficiency.

3. Implement healthy lifestyle habits

What you do during the day directly contributes to how well you sleep at night. Positive sleep hygiene starts in the morning, when you consume a healthy breakfast that gives your body the right fuel. It continues during the afternoon, when you conclude the day’s work and prioritize exercise, relaxation, and social activity. It culminates in the evening, when you shut off electronics, brush your teeth, and tuck yourself into bed.

Healthy sleep habits don’t become habits without discipline. Make sure to track your sleep habits, particularly the ones that reduce sleep deficiency, and stay honest about how well you’re doing. Don’t hesitate to include a sleep accountability partner, particularly if you notice yourself facing difficulties in maintaining positive sleep health.

One of the best things you can do during the day to reduce sleep deficiency is to limit naps. While naps can provide a jolt of energy, excessively-long naps can also be damaging. They’re disorienting and can disrupt your entire daily routine. For best results, keep naps under 30 minutes and avoid all naps after 5:00 PM. This gives your body enough time to expend energy as you prepare for a longer period of sleep at the end of the day.

4. Get help from a sleep specialist

Some doctors make it their mission to help you get the best sleep possible. These providers, called somnologists, are specially trained in sleep practice and medicine. If your sleep deficiency persists after organizing your daily routine and improving your lifestyle habits, it might be time to visit an expert.

Sleep specialists have a variety of different tools at their disposal to improve your condition. They might recommend medications that encourage rest, or suggest treatment methods like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Depending on your sleep situation, your sleep specialist might also ask you questions about your sleep situation. That’s where we can help.

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Visit your local Mattress Warehouse to take bedMATCH for a spin, or complete our five-minute online quiz to browse mattress options right now.