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People crave sleep more than sex- Yep, it's true!

Lack of sleep has become a national epidemic. Reports show that 61 percent of people crave sleep more than sex! Insufficient sleep has been proven to cause depression, weight gain and premature aging. And the old adage of getting enough beauty rest even has some truth to it! Lack of sleep leads to bags under the eyes and wrinkles.

How can you get enough sleep and how much should you be getting?

Four Stages of Sleep

For most adults, between six and eight hours of sleep is sufficient as long as you are getting rest in the four stages of sleep:

  1. The eyes are closed, but you can be easily awakened. This occurs the first five to 10 minutes of sleeping.
  2. Body temperature lowers, muscles and body relax and heart rate slows down, preparing the body for deep sleep.
  3. During stages three and four, REM sleep and dreams occur. The eye movement and body heart rate increase. Adults experience REM sleep about 20 percent of the time spent snoozing while children experience REM sleep about 80 percent of their resting.

Five Ways to Experience Better Sleep 

  1. Ritual behavior: Just as a child needs a bedtime story and a warm bath, a bedtime ritual is important for adults as well. Although more than 52 percent of Americans complain of lack of sleep, less than 20 percent of them have done something to improve this condition. Set a sleep time ritual with calming music, dimming the lights and either writing in a journal or reading for a few minutes.  
  2. Avoid eating before bedtime: Even when you get home later than you would like, eating before bedtime can cause a restless night. Eating spicy or fatty foods can slow down the emptying of the stomach to interrupt sleep. Also, consuming caffiene can stimulate the body to stay awake. It's a general good rule to eat at least 2-3 hours before you put yourself to bed.
  3. Unplug by your head: Although many will aruge they need their phone within reach of their bed, studies show that electromagnetic waves may interrupt sleep cycles, making the charging station for your cell phone better off on the dresser or in the bathroom than on the nightstand. Reduce the electrical fields around your sleeping area and try to avoid working with your computer in bed to give your mind a break.  
  4. Exercise daily.  People who exercise daily report sounder and more sleeping hours than those who do not. Exercise is important to regulate hormones, buring calories and maintaining muscle tone. However, many experts believe that meditative and stretching routines are better performed before bedtime than strenuous cardio workouts. Strenuous workouts should be avoided within four hours of resting.
  5. Breathe deeply: Simply focus on breathing deeply and slowly, your body will naturally lower the heart rate and cortisol levels in the body. Simply count your breaths for one minute and continue each minute until only six total inhales and exhales are performed within that minute. By concentrating with the mind the body will follow with a sounder, restful sleep experience.

If you're still having trouble getting those peaceful ZzZ's, check with your doctor and take steps toward a good night's rest.

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