Regulating our sleep.
Typically speaking, we need about 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But why is sleep so important? When deprived of sleep we experience a whole host of symptoms including: inattention, disorientation, and memory problems. Moreover, sleep plays an important part in our emotional regulation and may lead to irritability, anxiety, or even depression when disrupted. Insomnia, defined as persistent sleep loss occurring on 3 or more nights per week for a period of at least 3 months, affect nearly 10% of the general population. But why do we experience these sleep disturbances? Insomnia is caused by a combination of predisposing factors (e.g. significant stress, a family history of insomnia, etc), precipitating factors (e.g. bereavement, loss of employment, illness, etcetera), and perpetuating factors (use of stimulants, being worried about not sleeping, etcetera).
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Dealing with Insomnia.
There are a number of different therapeutic interventions specifically aimed at treating insomnia. The most important of these include: improving our sleep hygiene, keeping a sleep diary, implementing the quarter-of- an-hour rule, and regulating the amount of time we spend in bed. But how do we know if we really need professional help in dealing with insomnia? A good place to start is by calculating your sleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency is a subjective measure of the quality of our sleep expressed in terms of a percentage. Good sleepers maintain a sleep efficiency of around 90% which equates to approximately 8 hours of sleep per night. To calculate your sleep efficiency, use the formula presented below. If your sleep efficiency is significantly lower than 90% threshold, it might be worth seeking professional assistance.
Sleep efficiency calculator
(total time you think you sleep) ÷ (total time you usually spend in bed) × 100