We all know that sleep is important, but just how important? When thinking about a healthy lifestyle, sleep is a vital piece. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. In spite of this, a large percentage of adults, report getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night. The CDC has labelled insufficient sleep as a public health problem. Over the past decade, there has been a rise in a number of national safety concerns related to sleep deprivation.
Some of these concerns are:
· Motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers falling asleep while driving
· Medical errors: physicians, nurses and other medical personnel working long hours and overnight shifts
· Industrial disasters: sleep-deprived workers are more likely to be involved in work-related accidents
There are many factors that lead to lack of sleep, such as:
· Work schedules: shift work
· Stress and anxiety
· Worry about not sleeping
· Jet lag from business travel
· Constant access to technology: cell phones, television, computers
· Family demands: small children
· Sleep apnea
· Caffeine consumption
Individual effects of sleep deprivation:
· Decrease in critical thinking skills - The prefrontal cortex is a section of the brain that is responsible for many higher level cognitive functions and is highly affected by sleep deprivation
· Increased risk of depression and anxiety
· Increased risk for heart disease and other serious health problems
· Potential weight gain
· Memory impairment
· Reduced sex drive
· Impaired judgement
· Reduced motivation to be active
· Increases consumption of calorie dense snacks
Now let’s talk about the many great benefits of sleep. Our bodies need sleep for many reasons. Sleep is a time for restoration, healing, recovery, mental rejuvenation and more.
Benefits of sleep:
· Improved memory and ability to learn
· Aids in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight: potential regulation of hunger hormones and reduced time for snacking
· Decreased stress levels
· Improved emotional well-being
· Physical restoration: muscle recovery, tissue rejuvenation, strengthens immune system, wound healing, temperature regulation
· Insulin regulation
· Potential improved fertility in both men and woman
How do we start getting enough quality sleep?
Start by creating a schedule that you can stick to most nights of the week. It’s important to develop a routine. An example would be getting in bed at 9:30 pm and out of bed at 6 am every day. Next, control noise and lighting. Close curtains and blinds and shut off all extra lights. If you live with other people or have pets, the use of white noise such as a fan will be helpful to drown out extra noise. Remove all cell phones, computers and televisions from your bedroom. Train your mind to think of your bedroom as a place for rest and not for work or entertainment. Complete vigorous exercise at least 2 hours before bedtime to allow your temperature and heart rate to return to normal. Avoid eating heavy meals or snacks before going to bed. Also avoid caffeine later in the day or even after noon for some people. Lastly, for those who have the luxury of daytime naps, earlier is better and limit them to 30 minutes.
If after trying these lifestyle modifications, you still struggle with sleep, you may want to consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi). CBTi, recommended by sleep experts as a first-line treatment for insomnia, works to improve the quality of your sleep by changing behaviors that interfere with your daily sleep patterns. At the same time, CBTi therapists work with you to change thoughts and beliefs that make it hard to get to sleep. In many cases, anxiety about life stressors or worry about the consequences of not getting enough sleep play an important role in developing and maintaining sleep problems, and CBTi is helpful in addressing these concerns.
For more helpful lifestyle tips and guidance visit us at https://enhancehealth.org or call 603.448.0055