Sleep is a complicated thing. So many factors come into play when determining the quality of sleep. It could be stress levels, high cortisol levels, the mind not shutting off, the body not producing enough melatonin, caffeine intake, hormone depletion, diet, technology, etc. It could even be as simple as having a bad sleeping environment. A lot can interfere with natural sleep patterns. If you are anything like me, then getting inadequate sleep every night has just become the norm that you have accepted. But it is a very important aspect of living a healthy life. We know that eating healthy and exercising is important, but no one ever really talks about sleep being up there in that same category of importance.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:
- Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight. This effect is believed to be mediated by hormones and the lack of motivation to exercise due to energy levels.
- People who get enough tend to eat fewer calories while sleep-deprived individuals tend to eat more. Deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and causes poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.
- It is needed for optimal brain function. Cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance are all negatively affected by sleep deprivation. On the other hand, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance.
- Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease. This becomes sort of a domino effect; less sleep leads to more stress and high blood pressure, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices. All of which affect the heart over time.
- Poor sleep is linked to depression. It also affects our emotions and social interactions.
- Lack of it can also activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage.
While lack of or inadequate sleep can show physical effects, it also causes harmful effects that we don’t physically see or may not see until much farther down the road. So now, how do we make efforts to improve the duration and quality?
TIPS FOR IMPROVING SLEEP
- Keep distractions and gadgets out of sight. Although electronics might help make our lives easier during the day, they can really damage our quality of sleep at night. Try turning your phone off an hour before bed. It’s important to relax and wind down the mind when you are getting ready for bed.
- Create a comfortable bed oasis. From pillows and comforters to calming scents and aromatherapy, it’s important to set up a comfortable environment suited for you specifically.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. It is a scientific fact that our bodies are programmed to fall asleep when it’s dark. Light prevents the body from producing melatonin.
- Lower the caffeine intake and don’t consume caffeine later than 2 p.m.
- If you can’t fall asleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Nothing is worse than trying to force the mind to fall asleep when it is just not ready yet.
- Get your hormones assessed. Especially for aging women. This can be the main reason for poor sleep.
Sleep is important for everyday function, but also for future health both mentally and physically. Good quality sleep doesn’t always come easy, so it’s crucial to put in the effort as an adult just as we would when putting children to bed.
For more information please contact Premier Health and Wellness by visiting the site or by contacting the staff at (512) 459-4405.