Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest problems facing individuals and even the country today. According to http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/, more than 25% of all Americans occasionally do not get enough sleep, and 10% suffer from insomnia.
I'm not a doctor, but I do know from experience what it means to suffer from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation means a day of irritability, forgetfulness, lethargy and inability to focus. Sleep deprivation means not having enough energy for your kids. Sleep deprivation can cause you to turn to coffee or other artificial energy enhancers, further compounding the problem as they can also lead to sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle. You don't sleep deeply and/or you don't sleep enough. You toss and turn and then it becomes even harder to sleep.
Through the years, I've learned certain techniques and behaviors to combat sleep deprivation. Some of these may be conventional sleep deprivation fighting techniques, but others are ones that I discovered after years of combating it.
Get a better mattress. The number one reason for sleep deprivation and the easiest way to combat sleep deprivation is to get a better and more comfortable mattress. After almost five years of suffering with it, my wife and I went shopping for a new mattress and it's made a lot of difference. My advice is to shop at a bedding store, with mattress experts who can really educate you as to the pros and cons of the mattress itself and why some carry different price tags than others. Think about it. A mattress is where you will hopefully spend a THIRD of your life! Do not skimp and buy the highest quality mattress available! This doesn't necessarily mean a mattress that is the most expensive, but a mattress that feels the most comfortable and has a reputation for lasting and being durable.
Limit your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine after 3:00PM. Caffeine will stay in your system for quite a while and it's important to get it completely out before falling asleep. Next to getting a better mattress, limiting your caffeine is probably the second most important thing you can do.
Don't force yourself to sleep. If you aren't tired, do not stress out about and lie on your mattress in a dark room staring at the ceiling. Instead, do something that will relax you. Many will advise you to not watch television, but in my experience, a funny, lighthearted show can really help me to zone out.
I'll put this tactfully, but if you are married or have a significant other next to you, the, uh, occasional "happy ending" can help zone you out and combat sleep deprivation (and perhaps deprivation of other things as well!). Whatever is keeping you up and stressed will soon be forgotten!
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol turns into sugar in your bloodstream and will keep you awake, or at least keep your body fighting off the sugar all night. Not as bad as caffeine, perhaps, but still an issue.
Talk radio. The mindless blather coming from stations, like WFAN sports talk in New York, can help block out more important issues. What is sports talk for, after all, but escapism? And many opposing fans would claim that the New York sports they talk all day is the leading cure for sleep deprivation!
Music. Maybe not the Foo Fighters, but put on a Fleetwood Mac or Alicia Keys CD and it can be soothing. I'm not sure Stevie Nicks or Alicia Keys would like to be recommended as a sleep deprivation cure, but my job is to report my experiences here.
White noise. While I personally usually prefer listening to something like WFAN or music, depending on my mood, a white noise machine can help really create a soundless room and absorb any distractions. An entire industry of white noise machine manufacturers has grown up to combat sleep deprivation.
Turn the mattress. I spoke earlier about the importance of a good mattress, but turning the mattress over can help get you out of the craters created in certain positions.
Replay funny or pleasing things that happened during the day in your head. I literally cracked up one night while falling asleep. Despite my wife questioning my sanity, I soon fell asleep and woke up refreshed. So maybe I'm a touch crazy, but sleep deprivation can lead to insanity anyway!
I hope this helps as it did me. Sleep deprivation is an awful thing to live with.