Earlier this month, the National Sleep Foundation marked National Sleep Awareness Week. It’s unfortunate that only a few days have been allotted to focus on something so important. As a society, we tend to “sleep” on getting enough sleep, so I decided to write a column on the benefits of getting proper rest.
The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Their important work is a great platform to help the masses understand how critical it is to get some shut eye.
For starters, getting ample rest can result in getting sick less often, maintaining a healthy weight and lowering the risks of serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. For these reasons alone, it makes great sense to develop a sleep schedule and stick to it.
So how much is enough sleep?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Most Adults need 7 or more hours of good-quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to get good-quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested when you wake up.”
Other health benefits to sleep include stress reduction and mood improvement. Just think about how refreshed you feel after a good night’s sleep. Your mind has also rested, and you are more mentally prepared to face the day. Good sleep also causes better interaction with others, a better sense of judgment and potential avoidance of injury due to alertness.
It is especially important to understand the true definition of a good night’s sleep. Our bodies have biological clocks that are set according to the pattern of daylight to where we live. This is why we get sleepy at night and struggle with sleep when working the midnight shift or staying up past bedtime.
Looking to improve your sleeping habits? Here are a few tips:
- As much as possible, try to go to sleep around the same time each night. This creates a schedule that your body becomes accustomed to.
- Eliminate distractions to ensure a restful night. This means unplugging from devices, turning off the television and, of course, the lights.
- Avoid interrupted sleep. Getting up periodically throughout the night disturbs your sleep pattern and can result in you being tired or sluggish the next day.
- Avoid sleeping on a full stomach. Eat your final meal a few hours before bed allowing it to properly digest and prepare the body for adequate rest.
There are many who suffer from insomnia, which is the ability to fall or stay asleep. This may be an indicator of other underlying health issues. The same goes for sleeping for extended periods of time and still feeling tired. If you are concerned about your sleep patterns, have a conversation with your physician to explore what may be going on.
Bottomline, sleep is your friend, so get plenty of it! Your health matters!
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