We all know sleep is important. It is an inevitable part of our day, and necessary for our mind and body to function properly. Why, then, is it one of the most common things we sacrifice when life gets too busy?
Let’s review why sleep is crucial to our livelihood, and what we can do to push back against the reflex to put it on the back burner.
Wellness Roundup: Prioritize Sleep for Good Health
The Why: Sleep and Health
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 40 million Americans have over 70 different sleep disorders, and 60 percent of adults have issues sleeping multiple days per week. Not only this, but over 40% of these same adults experience daytime sleepiness, and even 69 percent of children have sleep issues. That’s a lot of lost sleep.
Getting adequate rest affects every aspect of our health. Both our mind and body count on rest to repair and heal. Without this rest, our functions begin to fail.
Sleep Impacts the Mind
While we sleep our mind undergoes a series of mechanisms. It saves and stores the information gathered that day and prepares for the following day. Adequate sleep ensures our mind is fresh, that memory, cognitive function, and behavior can function normally.
Having a good night’s rest allows us to learn. Our motor skills and decision making is improved, and we can collect more information. Without this rest, our mind goes strongly in the other direction. Studies show that lack of sleep can make us moody or depressed, and make it difficult to get along with others. Our judgment is impaired, our focus is lacking, and our emotions and behavior are affected.
Sleep Impacts the Body
Again, while we rest, our bodies also heal and repair. Our heart, muscles, and nervous system gain vital rest and repair from physical use during the day.
Healthy hormones, insulin resistance, and weight management all depend on adequate sleep. Lack of rest is linked to overeating, obesity and diabetes risk. It is also tied to inflammation and an impaired immune system. In other words, lack of sleep is a recipe for illness.
The How: Create Sleep Priority and Healthy Habits
Quality Sleep Deterrents
Our sleep quality is affected my numerous environmental factors. These include:
- Stress is a huge factor in sleep quality. An issue for many adults, and especially for women. Stress can cause insomnia, make us wake up during the night, or leave us feeling sleepy the following day.
- Bright lights at night, especially blue/LED light. This includes smartphones, tablets/readers, computers and TV screens. The waves from these devices mess with our bodies natural circadian rhythm.
- Changing your schedule or traveling can also take away from quality sleep. Our bodies crave a routine, and when we deviate from this, it tends to disrupt sleep patterns.
- Eating too much, and at the wrong times, can also keep you from sleeping well.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
We can combat these outside factors by practicing good sleep hygiene. This can be achieved with a few simple suggestions.
- Avoid stressors and/or practice stress relief before bed. This is largely based on doing something you enjoy, and inducing a feeling of calm. For some this may mean reading a book (not on an electronic device), practicing yoga, deep breathing, or spending time with your kids.
- Develop a nighttime routine. This should include your stress relief tactics, and also other relaxation methods. Such as a hot bath or shower, exchanging massages with your partner, or gentle sleep-inducing exercise.
- Create a healthy sleep environment. This includes eliminating potential disturbances, such as those outlined above. Also ensure your room is cool, under 68 degrees is optimal, quiet, and completely dark.
- Stick to a schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake at the same time every day, regardless of the day of the week or what time zone you are in.
- Eat for quality sleep. Avoid caffeine after noon, large meals close to bedtime, and keep alcohol to a minimum. Also, incorporate protein and fat before bedtime to keep you satiated until morning.
Do you suffer from poor sleep quality? Have you tried any of these tips for better sleep? Let us know in the comments!
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