June 28, 2016
Did you ever wonder how your workaholic brother can stay up late at night while you can barely make it past 10 p.m.? Do you know why it’s a struggle for some people to get a full night’s sleep while others can easily doze off at bedtime? Sleep experts recommend that adults aged 18 to 64 strive to get seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. We all know that this is not as easy as it seems.
People have different sleeping habits around the world. These can be based on a number of factors such as age, gender, medical profile and socio-economic status. Your daily coffee consumption also affects your sleep pattern. This explains why your grandparents can wake up before the sun rises and your young siblings can only get a shut-eye in the morning.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you need to understand what type of sleeper you are. As ancient war strategist Sun Tzu wrote, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Sleep difficulties are the “enemy” you should take seriously as they can wreak havoc to your physical and mental health.
Explore these six different kinds of sleeper.
Sunshine, your 32-year-old sister, is a hardworking preschool teacher, an avid cyclist and a doting mom. She wakes up at 5 a.m. everyday, even on holidays, and works throughout the day without feeling tired or fatigued. Getting seven to nine hours of continuous sleep is a piece of cake for her. She doesn’t have any vice, carefully plans her diet and has no medical condition. Sunshine “The Morning Person” is the ideal type of sleeper personality.
Rush is your 24-year-old brother who takes his work to bed. He starts his day early, slaves in the office until dinner time and still checks emails before dozing off. It seems that 24 hours per day is simply not enough for Rush to attend to his affairs. Unlike Sunshine, Rush “The Insomniac” admits feeling worn out at least three times a week and suffers from persistent sleeplessness on most nights.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep or both, you’re likely suffering from insomnia. The Mayo Clinic warns that this sleeping problem “can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.”
Everybody loves 76-year-old Grandfather Ted. He can easily pull eight-hour zzz’s in the evening with 15-minute catnaps on his comfy sofa bed during the day. Like Sunshine, Ted rarely gets tired at daytime though he may have one or two medical conditions.
Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School said that older people aged 60 to 70 years sleep for an average of 7.5 hours compared to nine hours for their younger counterparts. The scientists attribute this to an elderly’s age-related biological changes. “Sleep changes from infancy through childhood, puberty, young adulthood and middle-age until we die,” said Harvard’s Dr. Elizabeth Klerman.
What type of sleeper am I? If you’re logging more than 40 hours of work per week, sleeping less but napping more and downs at least 3 cups of black coffee daily, you share the same sleep personality as your overworked father Warren.
Your 55-year-old dad doesn’t believe that he needs to comply with the suggested 7-9 hours of sleep at night, and tries to compensate his insufficient rest by napping in between meetings. He only comes home to get a few hours of rest before hitting the road, which is probably the reason why he’s having problems with your mom. Most Warrens are not in relationships mainly due to their toxic lifestyle.
Sleeplessness, unfortunately, is becoming the norm in our society. We strive to finish as much work as we can with the limited time we have. The health consequences of chronic sleep deprivation can go beyond feeling tired.
Our quality of sleep is influenced by a number of factors such as our lifestyle choices and underlying medical conditions. Recently, your 53-year-old mother Debbie learned that she has a kidney disease which explained her chronic sleeplessness. She struggles to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Not surprisingly, she and your overworked father Warren confess that their relationship is on the rocks. About 40% of people who have similar sleeping issues as Debbie say their intimate relationships have been affected by their sleeping habits.
If you assess your family tree well, you’d realize that your 47-year-old unmarried uncle has the “most unique” sleeping routine in your clan. Uncle Edgar, an army officer, sleeps for about four hours per night. Since he needs long waking hours to attend to his duties, he makes sure he gets 20-minute naps anytime during the day. Edgar’s short core sleep is compensated by brief naps.
The Everyman Sleep Cycle, otherwise known as the polyphasic sleep, is characterized by a 4-hour core sleep and multiple naps over a 24-hour period. Since many people are unable to meet the recommended number of sleep hours per night, systematic napping becomes a necessary option. An individual nap must be for about 20 to 45 minutes to avoid fatigue.
What kind of sleeper are you? Once you’ve identified whether you’re a healthy snoozer or an overworked insomniac, it’ll be easily to craft a course of action. Assess your lifestyle choices and pinpoint any sleep mistakes causing your sleeping problems. Do you eat a lot before bedtime? Do you bring your smartphone to bed to “help you fall asleep”? Do you drink coffee before sleeping? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are guilty of putting yourself sleepless.
When in doubt, consult a doctor. Avoid self-diagnosing your condition as sleeplessness can be due to a serious illness. In the meantime, go relax on a comfortable nap nook, clear your mind and sleep away.
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