Time to Catch Some ZZZ's

Eat Well Sleep Well

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There’s a day or a week for everything it seems! Google it and you’ll actually find some fun ones - September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day and May 9th is National Memorial Day for Lost Socks. As much as I’d love to dive into how those came about, let’s get into something a little more health related in honor of Sleep Awareness Week, it’s time to drive home the important connection between your sleep and your health. Sleep is just as important as a balanced diet and exercise routine - without it, you don’t get the most out of an overall healthy lifestyle.

I know some of us would love to get more sleep but feel like there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done on our to-do lists and get enough sleep. It’s hard for some of us to even just shut our brains off after a long day and pass out - those with certain disorders or health conditions have it even harder to get good quality sleep at all. And then there’s the select few who love the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” as they love being on the go so much, however, this option is not the smartest or healthiest outlook to have. Sleep deprivation can put your health and safety at risk.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to serious mental and physical health conditions, as well as put your safety at risk. The CDC reports that staying awake for more than 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. After 24 hours, this increases to 1.00%, which is well over the legal driving limit. Amongst driving impairment, other effects of sleep deprivation are:

  • Memory problems
  • Feelings of depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Irritability
  • Slower reaction times
  • A weakened immune system, raising your chances of getting sick
  • Stronger feelings of pain
  • Higher chances of conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, or obesity
  • A lower sex drive
  • Wrinkled skin and dark circles under your eyes
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Trouble solving problems and making decisions
  • Bad decision-making
  • Hallucinations

    Sleep & Wakefulness

    Quite a few people think they can truly survive off of 4-5 hours of good sleep. The amount of sleep does vary depending on your age, however, living off of only a handful of hours a night long term will cause your mental and physical health to slowly deteriorate over time. So how much sleep do we really need then? According to the CDC, these are the recommended hours of sleep per day for each age group:

     

    AGE GROUP

    RECOMMENDED HOURS OF SLEEP PER DAY

    Newborn (0-3 months)

    14-17 hours

    Infant (4-12 months)

    12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    Toddler (1-2 years)

    11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    Preschool (3-5 years)

    10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    School Age (6-12 years)

    9-12 hours per 24 hours

    Teen (13-18 years)

    8-10 hours per 24 hours

    Adult (18-60 years)

    7 or more hours per night

    61-64 years

    7-9 hours

    65 years and older

    7-8 hours

     

    Sleep Issues

    Getting an adequate night of quality sleep has so many benefits. Not only will you feel more rejuvenated and energized to take on whatever the day may bring, it also may help you maintain or even lose weight, may strengthen your heart, reduces your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, reduces the effects of depression, supports a healthy immune system, and so much more! When the prescription of some of your ailments is as easy as sleep, why not make it more of a priority in your life?!

    If you’re ready to make sleep a higher priority in your life along with your nutrition and exercise routine, here are 17 tips to increase the quality and amount of sleep you get each night:

    1. Increase bright light exposure during the day - Daily sunlight or artificial bright light can improve sleep quality and duration, especially if  you have severe sleep issues or insomnia.
    2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening - Blue light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime. Try wearing glasses that block blue light, install an app on your computer and phone that blocks blue light, and stop watching TV and turn off bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
    3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day - this should be a given! But for some coffee or caffeinated tea seems to relax you when in reality it is still waking your brain up a bit and can significantly worsen sleep quality when consumed in the late afternoon and evening hours.
      • Reduce irregular or long daytime naps - If you are having issues sleeping at night, try shortening your naps (if you take one) or stop them altogether to see if that improves your sleep quality at night.
      • Try to sleep and wake at consistent times - Getting on a regular sleep/wake cycle, especially on the weekends, may not only help the quality and amount of sleep you get but also may help you wake up naturally at a similar time each day.
      • Take a melatonin supplement - This can be an easy way to improve sleep quality and fall asleep faster. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it’s advised that you check with a healthcare provider before use.
      • Consider other supplements - Ginkgo biloba, Glycine, Valerian root, Magnesium, L-theanine, and Lavender are also helpful supplements that can help with relaxation and sleep quality when combined with other strategies.
      • Don’t drink alcohol - Avoid those one or two drinks before bed as alcohol can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
      • Optimize your bedroom environment - Eliminating external light and noise to get better sleep.
      • Set your bedroom temperature - Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70 degrees is best for most people.
      • Don’t eat late in the evening - Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption.
      • Relax and clear your mind in the evening - Relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths and meditation, may help you fall asleep faster.
      • Take a relaxing bath or shower - A warm bath, shower or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
      • Rule out a sleep disorder - There are many common conditions that can cause poor sleep, including sleep apnea. See a healthcare provider if poor sleep is a consistent problem in your life.
      • Get a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow - These things can greatly affect sleep quality and joint or back pain. Try to buy high quality bedding every 5-8 years.
      • Exercise regularly - Just not before bed. Regular exercise during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.
      • Don’t drink any liquids before bed - Reduce fluid intake in the late evening and try to use the bathroom right before bed. This can eliminate the need to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
                              Sleep 101
                              

                              Even attempting just one or a few of the options above can seriously improve the quality and amount of sleep you get each night, and do so naturally. We all schedule meetings at work and even at home with our busy schedules (especially those of us with kids), so why not make your sleep a higher priority in your life and start figuring out what works best for you and your sleep? Start a morning and night routine for yourself and before you know it you’ll be getting that extra sleep you’ve been missing in order to fully live a truly healthier, happier life.

                              #EatWellLiveBetter

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