Here's What Your Sleep Habits Really Say About You

When's the last time you had a great night's sleep? You know, the kind where you drift off easily and get an uninterrupted eight to nine hours of peaceful slumber. If that question leaves you stifling a yawn while you struggle to come up with an answer, it might be time to take a serious look at your sleep habits.

According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults in the U.S. have some sort of sleep disorder. The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, yet over 35% of adults report getting less than seven hours. Sleep deprivation can lead to numerous health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression (via CDC). And accidents caused by drowsiness kill more than 1,500 people each year in the U.S. Good sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene, are an important piece of a healthy lifestyle. So what can your sleep habits reveal about you and your health?

Bad sleep? You're not alone

Researchers estimate that about one-third of adults suffer from insomnia at some point in their life (via The Healthy). If you find yourself unable to fall asleep easily, it could be a combination of factors — like having too many stimulants in your system. Both caffeine and nicotine are known to keep people up at night, so avoiding these, especially in the evening before you hope to go to sleep, is probably a good idea. Stress can also play a huge factor in your ability to drift off to dreamland. Eliminating stressors in your life could help put you back on track to a good night's rest.

But what if you have the opposite problem and just seem to sleep too much? It could be an indication of an overactive thyroid, or even an ongoing infection in your system (via Prevention). Are you getting the recommended amount of sleep, but you still feel groggy and don't ever feel truly rested when you wake up? You may be experiencing sleep apnea, which is a breathing condition that interrupts your sleep cycle, even if you don't realize it at the moment. Depression is another possible reason for feeling sleepy even after the right amount of rest. If you have other symptoms along with exhaustion, consulting with a therapist could be a good first step in getting better rest.

Try these habits for better sleep

And speaking of mood disorders, anxiety can actually lead to some pretty unhealthy sleep habits. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep without the TV blaring in the background, you could be using it to distract yourself from unpleasant worries or feelings. Try a different sleep strategy, like reading or listening to quiet music, to help you calm down for bedtime.

If you're waking up in the middle of the night and just can't seem to get back to sleep, you could be experiencing restless leg syndrome. About 3% of the population deals with this condition caused by abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain. Restless Leg Syndrome can be dangerous if left untreated, but fortunately can be kept under control with medication.

No matter what's keeping you from getting good, restful sleep, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep hygiene (via CDC). Going to bed at a consistent time every night, taking electronics like your cell phone out of your bedroom, keeping your sleeping environment dark, quiet, and cool, and getting regular exercise will help put you on the path to better sleep habits.