Scientists Research Why You Can’t Fall Asleep
If you have yourself wondering “why cant I fall asleep”, then continue reading! A recent study by the National Institute of Health shows that there is a direct link between socioeconomic class and the number of hours of sleep in a night you get. The reasons are varied, but the results are conclusive: the more you make, the more likely you are to get the full eight hours of sleep needed to enjoy a healthy, full lifestyle. The news isn’t all bad though, social scientists are exploring ways for individuals to find more sleep, and also systemic ways that we can change society to better incorporate good sleeping habits for lower income and disadvantaged households.
Reasons You Can’t Fall Asleep
The reasons for less sleep are probably obvious, but let’s take a look at some of the factors. Often times low income families (in this case we are looking at someone with less than 40,000 dollars as the main wage earner), are forced to work multiple jobs. Not only that, they are more likely to be in school while working a full time job and providing family care. The time commitments for these activities is high, and very rarely leads to a night of seven hours of sleep or more (which the CDC recommends as a bench post, with eight being the optimal number).
In addition to this, lower income families also experience stress levels and not-optimal sleeping conditions that are higher than their more well-off counterparts. Stress has a compounding effect on sleep deprivation: the less you get, the more stressed out you become, the less sleep you get the next night. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of, especially without the luxury of more time. Sleep conditions were also found to be worse in lower income families, as they were more likely to share a bedroom, live in places where it was too warm or cold for best sleep, or have overcrowding in a shared space.
How to Fall Asleep Easier
Social scientists are now looking for ways in which they can help alleviate some of the sleep deprivation going on, and even the playing field for all incomes. This isn’t just for the sake of sleep, it affects all areas of our lives. In a recent interview with Slate, sociologists chimed in with their reasons for why it’s so important we get our best sleep.
“Sleep truly resides at the nexus of our social and physical environments,” explains Michael Grandner, a sleep researcher with the University of Arizona who has studied the intersection of sleep deprivation with social and environmental factors. “It is shaped by who you are and where you are. And that has significant implications.” Like water, food, and air, sleep is a biological imperative. Getting enough of it plays a critical role in our physical and psychological health.
Solutions for these problems need to be systemic, but they can be as simple as changing policies to help underserved populations find more time for sleep. Lauren Hale, a sleep researcher thinks that this can start early in life — like high school.
“Communities need to think about policies that reduce late-night activities and community noise and lights,” Hale says. “For example high schools could start later in the morning, assign less homework, and limit school events that end late at night.”
We can also implement good sleep health education, giving people a head start on how to live a healthy life with sleep as an important component. It’s something that these scientists are optimistic about.
“Changing sleep is a lot easier than changing bigger social issues,” Grander says. “Fixing sleep won’t fix everything else, but it will increase the ability to deal with the other pressures in people’s lives.”
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