Millennials are tired. Healthy adults need at least seven hours of quality sleep nightly and Americans already have a sleep deficit problem. But, increasingly, millennials are getting less and less of the restorative sleep they need.
The problem with millennials’ sleep deprivation is so pronounced that this generation often is referred to as “The Tired Generation.” Millennials, also known as “Generation Y,” are those born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 25 to 40 as of this writing), according to the Pew Research Center.
Sleep Deprivation is Dangerous
As you have read in previous posts, sleep deprivation is a serious matter. Not only does lack of sleep affect performance at work and increase the likelihood of accidents, it also poses severe health threats!
Lack of quality sleep is directly linked to many life-threatening disorders, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased risk of stroke. Sleep deprivation also can cause sexual dysfunction and is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders later in life.
Why Are Millenials Sleep Deprived?
Millennials have been facing a multitude of stress-inducing factors that contribute to their sleep deprivation. The manner in which they have confronted or reacted to these circumstances has taken its toll, both physically and mentally.
Financial and Career Challenges
Most millennials came of age within a few years of the 2008 Great Recession. This major financial crisis had profound and lasting effects on these young adults, including:
- Fewer jobs available
- Difficulty to save money and to make student loan payments
- Decreased ability to buy a home or even pay rent
- Uncertainty about the future
Many millennials have been addressing these challenges by working excessively to excel in whatever jobs they are fortunate enough to get. This can mean long hours spent at work. Additionally, a large percentage of millennials work more than one job or take on “side gigs” to help make ends meet.
Poor Diet and Exercise
It’s commonly known that diet and exercise have major impacts on overall health and the quality of one’s sleep. But shopping for and preparing healthy meals takes time and planning, as does getting adequate exercise. Unfortunately, however, these two things often suffer with the long hours some millennials spend working.
Additionally, like so many people of other generations, many millennials deal with stress through the use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other drugs. Even in small amounts, these substances adversely affect a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Related: Alcohol and Sleep May Not Mix as Well as You Think
Millennials are on Their Phones the Most
Only a minority of millennials knew life without cell phones or the Internet, making them the first generation to be always connected.
Digital communication was available to millennials at a far younger age than to members of any preceding generation. In fact, according to a survey by phone plan search engine WhistleOut, millennials spend more time on their phones than any other generation. On average, millennials use their smartphones 3.7 hours per day (versus 3 hour a day for Generation X and 2.5 hours a day for baby boomers).
But this connectedness comes at a price as millennials find themselves interacting with work matters after hours, chatting with friends digitally and scrolling through social media. And oftentimes, this interaction with smartphones replaces sleep or happens right before bedtime. In our last blog post, we discussed how blue light-emitting technology is detrimental to a good night’s sleep.
How Millennials Can Get More Sleep
As millennials deal with the pressures of work, finances, and uncertainty, it’s no wonder that they find themselves stressed out. But with all of this stress, it is more important than ever that millennials get the sleep they need.
Here are a few ways millennials—and everyone else—can get more sleep:
- Develop a realistic sleep routine.
To the extent possible, create a schedule for yourself and budget for at least seven hours of sleep nightly.
- Create an ideal sleeping environment.
You can create a better bedroom for getting good sleep by making just a few beneficial changes. These changes may include making sure your bedroom is cool (between 60 and 67 degrees is ideal), dark and quiet. But do consider using white noise as a sleep aid; there are several smartphone apps available for this!
Clear extraneous clutter from your bedroom, and make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable and your bedding is clean.
Consider using certain fragrances, such as lavender, peppermint, valerian and ylang ylang in your bedroom to induce a more peaceful state.
- Limit your use of smartphones and other technology.
If possible, stop using blue-light emitting devices an hour or two before bedtime. Use blue-light blocking glasses, such as those from Ocushield, if you must use your phone or other electronics before bed.
- Reduce your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, particularly before bedtime.
It’s best to avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime and caffeine for at least six hours before turning in.
- Improve your eating habits.
Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, eat well-balanced meals, and avoid large amounts of food right before bedtime which can create digestive distress and keep you up or prevent good rest.
- Exercise daily.
Even a 20-minute walk each day has proven health benefits and will help you sleep better.
- Clear your mind.
We all have stressors in our lives but going to bed with a clear mind helps us get to sleep faster.
One simple way to accomplish this is by writing in a journal or writing tomorrow’s to-do list for a few minutes before bed. In fact, journaling can be such a powerful tool we wrote an entire article sharing the Top 4 Ways a Sleep Journal Can Help You Get Good Sleep.
We encourage you to use these tips to optimize your sleep. If you feel you may have other issues causing sleep deprivation, we encourage you to contact one of our locations for a consultation. We’re here to help!