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Everything You Need To Know About Sleep



Sleep Matters: The Impact Of Sleep On Health And Wellbeing

People do whatever they can to stay healthy – eat right, exercise, use supplements, etc. However, many overlook another important aspect of their health – sleep and its quality. 

Sleep is just as important to health as everything else. You could eat junk food more often than not and still live to your 70s. However, if you’re not getting enough decent sleep, you won’t make it for long - the Guinness World Record for sleep deprivation is 11 days. You’re unlikely to attempt breaking that record, but parents of newborns and medical students may feel like inadvertently trying. 

Even if you get the bare minimum of sleep, how good is it? If you’re not sleeping optimally, how is the quality of your sleep affecting eating and body composition? Do you spend late nights in front of the computer or TV, eating what you shouldn’t be eating and unable to make healthy choices the next day, the day after, and so on?


Better Understanding of Sleep

The average adult sleeps around seven hours every night, but 33% of the population are only getting 6.5 hours or less. And women often need more sleep than men. People who carry a lot of body fat don’t sleep as much as people who have normal body fat. According to various studies people sleeping six hours or less gain twice more weight than people who sleep seven to eight hours a night.
Getting too much sleep isn’t good either. People who sleep nine and more hours have a body composition similar to that of people who sleep six hours or less. 


Why Are People Getting Less Sleep

Many people believe that lack of quality sleep is the result of two things:

  • excessive demands by their job
  • inability to stop thinking when trying to fall asleep

The actual reason they don’t get enough sleep has nothing to do with physiological abnormalities or long hours. People don’t get enough sleep because they don’t want to – they choose to stay awake and do other things: browse the Internet, watch TV or movies or hang out.

Voluntarily delaying bedtime is something modern society has cooked up.  It was only a century ago that people were getting nearly nine hours of sleep. If you eliminated artificial stimulation and extra work demands, you could get the eight hours of sleep the body needs – the brain’s natural sleep/wake cycle. 


A Brief Look at The 5 Stages of Sleep

While you sleep, the body goes through five stages:

  • Stage 1 and 2 are light sleep
  • Stage 3 and 4 are deep sleep (in which GH secretion takes place)
  • Stage 5 is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, when dreaming occurs

Every 90 minutes your body goes through the entire cycle. If you don’t get the appropriate number of full sleep cycles, your body reduces GH secretion, which affects physical and mental restoration.  And not only will the body produce less GH, but its overall exercise performance will also be affected. You may feel as if you’re working harder than you really are. 


Your Sleep Health Is More Than a State of Mind

Sleep health is defined as total physical, social, and mental wellbeing as determined by the quality of an individual’s sleep. It’s important to get a good night’s rest if you are to enjoy good health. Likewise, it’s important to have good health if you want good sleep.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Overall Health?

Your body may be asleep, but your brain is working to commit new information to your memory, restore and repair the muscles, and reload your hormones. Upon waking up from a restful sleep your mind is more alert and focused, and you feel a lot more energized.
That’s the power good sleep can give you!

People who sleep healthily spend about a third of their time asleep. Without good rest you feel lethargic, emotionally drained, and unable to think. You increase the chance of developing serious health problems and gaining weight.  Lack of good sleep can lead to problems focusing at work or school. You may even be grumpy or get upset at the smallest thing. 

You must get good sleep if you are to be in a good mood, stay healthy, and have a higher quality of life. People who sleep well often feel better about things going on around them. They have a better outlook on life. They are healthier because their body can keep their hormones in check and stop them from overeating, feeling depressed, etc. 

How Does Your Health Affect the Quality of Your Sleep?

By now you understand that your overall health is affected by your sleep. But did you know that your health can affect the quality of your sleep? It’s much easier for a healthy person to get healthy sleep. Unfortunately unhealthy people tend to have worse sleep which makes it harder for them to be healthier. It’s a vicious cycle!

People who have sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep movement disorders, etc. tend to have serious health problems. The cause of these disorders can be emotional or mental, and the anxiety and stress they are under only exacerbates the problem. 

And then there are times when the cause is physical. 

Obese people or diabetics have a much harder time breathing at night, which can lead to insomnia or sleep apnea. Some neurological disorders linked to brain abnormalities can also lead to sleep issues. 

The great thing about all this is that if you can gain control over your symptoms, you can get better sleep. With better sleep it’s easier for you to handle the symptoms. 

How Can Your Lifestyle Affect Your Sleep?

Today’s society has a lot of obligations to meet, but our bodies still need to get the minimum of seven hours of sleep a night to accomplish them. You can be extremely healthy but suffer from sleep health problems because of stress, anxiety, and all the good things life has to offer.  When you partake in behaviors that have a negative effect on your circadian rhythm, your sleep is affected.  Such behaviors include staying up late, using electronics, or watching TV. 

For example, you may want to watch Netflix. The blue light of these devices makes your brain think it’s daytime, which means you stay up later than you should. Tech devices, exercise, and alcohol are other things people use to relax before going to bed.  However, indulging in them too much can hinder you from getting a good rest. 

Your lifestyle can have a profound effect on your sleep – be it positive or negative. 


What Are the Common Sleep Disorders That People Can Suffer From?

There are two common complaints people have when they go to the doctor – pain and sleep problems. What you don’t know is that sleep problems are actually more common than you may realize. The CDC estimates that a third of Americans are not regularly getting the sleep they need to face their days.

And a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, may be the result of this poor quality of sleep. Of course, many sleep disorders might have underlying causes – depression, anxiety, stress, etc.  While some people are born with sleep disorders, others are the result of poor bedtime routines (using technology at night or not sticking to a bedtime routine).

According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders there are six categories of sleep disorders:

  • Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Parasomnia
  • Sleep-related breathing disorder
  • Sleep-related movement disorder

What are these disorders? How do doctors diagnose them? What risks do they present if they are not treated? People who have sleep problems may wonder if they have an actual disorder. Do you fit into any of the categories listed below?

Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder

This disorder affects people whose circadian rhythm is out of sync. What is a healthy circadian rhythm like? You wake up with the sun rise in the morning, your body starts to slow down in the evening, and you will fall asleep at night.

The body’s circadian rhythm is not just about sleep patterns, but also about:

  • appetite
  • temperature
  • hormonal levels

When the circadian rhythm is messed up, it affects the quality of life. We’re unable to fall asleep or wake up easily. We feel as if we don’t have energy and cannot concentrate. 

A prime example of a circadian rhythm disorder is jet lag (which happens to people who travel from one time zone to another with a significant change in the sunlight schedule). While normal jet lag is gone within several days, living with circadian rhythm disorder feels like permanent jet lag. 

How does this disorder come about? It may result from lifestyle issues such as shiftwork (a person who doesn’t get a lot of natural sunlight due to night shiftwork could have the disorder). Some people may have trouble perceiving light due to visual impairment or blindness which may cause a sleep-wake disorder.

People with the circadian rhythm disorder are usually treated with light therapy and melatonin. Light therapy is given to readjust the cycle – done by sitting in front of a carefully-crafted lightbox. 

Insomnia

What is insomnia? It’s the basic problem of being unable to fall or stay asleep, and it’s one of the most common disorders people can have. A single night of restless sleep will cause a person to suffer from sleep deprivation the next day. What are its effects?

  • irritability 
  • lack of focus
  • lack of balance
  • impulsivity

People with insomnia sleep for short periods of time on a more regular basis. The effects of sleep deprivation can last days, weeks, months, and years. They can be very disruptive to peoples’ lives and will worsen if unresolved.

Insomnia can have a negative cognitive effect on work and school performance and raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Emotionally a person may not have motivation to follow through tasks. Or they can experience severe mood changes that can cause substance abuse and even depression. Sleep deprivation can physically lead to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. 

Occasional insomnia can last days, weeks, or months, affecting one in five people.  If it persists beyond six months, physicians label it as “chronic insomnia”, affecting nearly 10% of all adults. 

Insomnia can also be caused by not sleeping cleanly. Lifestyle changes such as not using the technology at night and exercising earlier in the day can make a huge difference to your sleep.

However, insomnia can also be a symptom of a medical condition, such as:

  • chronic health problems
  • mental health disorders
  • other sleep disorders

The underlying condition needs to be addressed before we see improvement in sleep. Treatment for this type of insomnia may include lifestyle changes, sleeping aids, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is not the same as insomnia. People with this condition sleep far more than they should. They can sleep nine or more hours and still feel as if they didn’t get enough sleep. They may have problems waking up and feel foggy all day. 

Idiopathic hypersomnia is different from other disorders in that the sleepiness persists  away from any environmental nighttime disruption or circadian rhythm issue.  Doctors are unsure about why it happens.

Another type of hypersomnia is narcolepsy, which breaks down into two types. The commonality between them is that a person becomes overly tired and sleepy during the day. One form of narcolepsy has symptoms of daytime sleep hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and sleep attacks. Doctors understand that this disorder has a neurological nature due to brain abnormalities, but they don’t know how to cure it yet.

It’s common for drugs such as SSRIs and Ritalin to be prescribed to narcoleptic patients to manage their symptoms. They are often used with other treatments such as light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and changes in lifestyle. 

Parasomnia

This disorder addresses odd (abnormal behaviors) that occur between each sleep stage. They occur in transition between wake and sleep, sleep and wake, nREM and REM sleep. There are five types of parasomnia:

  • Night terrors – a person all of a sudden sits up and screams – occurring between the stages of nREM and REM sleep
  • Exploding head syndrome – a person hears a noise that wakes them up as they’re waking up or going to sleep
  • Sleepwalking – a person may be walking around asleep. This tends to occur in the nREM sleep and usually happens in the first half of the night
  • Sleep paralysis – a person is alert, but cannot move when waking up or falling asleep 
  • REM behavior disorder – a person will yell or thrash around violently in the REM stage of sleep.

According to sleep experts 66% of people will suffer from parasomnia of some type at some time in their lives. While some types are seen more in childhood (sleepwalking and bedwetting) and most people grow out of them by adolescence.  Other types can be persistent (REM behavior disorder), or occasional (sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome).

The difficult part of diagnosing these disorders is that most people who have them don’t realize it. It’s usually other members of the household who notice the problem.

Sleep-related breathing disorder

Any disorder in this category is the result of difficulty with breathing while sleeping - breathing pauses in sleep, and abnormal breathing.  The two most common types of sleep-related breathing disorders are sleep apnea and chronic snoring.
Chronic snoring may not be a big issue for some, but it’s often a symptom of the more serious sleep apnea. This happens when a person literally stops breathing while they sleep. To start breathing again the brain wakes up for a moment even if the sufferer is asleep. The fleeting moment is just enough for a person not to get the high-quality sleep their body needs. As it can occur in every stage of sleep, it stops the body from going into the much-needed REM sleep.

The problem with these disorders is that people do not know that they’re going on. They may get the right amount of sleep every night, but still feel exhausted when they wake up. The only surefire way to know they have a problem is when someone else tells them. 

These disorders must be addressed! Up to 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and a high number of them is undiagnosed.  The  disorders can cause sleep deprivation, which leads to inability to concentrate during the day and cause physical issues such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Even worse? 

They can lead to life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, low blood oxygen, stroke, and heart attacks.

Sleep-related movement disorder

This disorder involves any odd movements that take place while sleeping or in transition from wake to sleep. What are some of the more common sleep-related movement disorders?

  • Periodic limb movement disorder – continuous leg movements in the nREM sleep stage which the person is not aware of
  • Restless leg syndrome – a person lying down may experience pins and needles in the legs and must move them to stop it
  • Sleep bruxism – involuntary grinding of the teeth while you sleep

These disorders are a problem because they rob someone of needed sleep. When RLS flares up, it makes it hard for a person to go to sleep and stay asleep. The other disorders happen while the sufferer is asleep, but affect the quality of sleep.  With sleep bruxism the teeth can become permanently damaged. 

Some sleep movement disorders are rarer with 4-10% of adults suffering from them. Some groups are more at risk for suffering from them. For example, older people or pregnant women are more likely to suffer from RLS. 

The problem with these disorders is that people don’t realize that they have them, and their symptoms are often mistaken for other issues.  A person who suffers from sleep bruxism may have pain in the jaw and morning headaches. 

There are many treatments:

  • psychotherapy (as stress can worsen some sleep disorders)
  • behavioral changes (no alcohol or caffeine)
  • weighted blankets
  • dental devices

What Risks Do Sleep Disorders Pose?

The government believes that up to 30% of adults  in the U.S. have a sleep disorder that affects mortality and disability. 

It’s usually psychiatric problems that correlate with insomnia. There is a strong link between mental illness and sleep problems, and the majority of psychiatric disorders have hypersomnia or insomnia as a symptom. 

According to researchers being unaware and having unhealthy beliefs about sleep increases the chance of nightmares and suicide. One such belief is that sleep disturbances are a permanent issue that can’t be beaten.  You may be wondering what sleep disorder is the most dangerous. That depends on your definition of risk. 

For people who have the rare REM behavior disorder this is dangerous. However, sleep apnea is extremely common and can cause early death or impaired cognitive function. 

Severe apnea greatly varies according to a person’s weight and one year may be worse than the next. Dying while sleeping – often determined to be a heart attack and listed as such on the death certificate – is one of the most intense consequences of apnea.  If you suffer from chronic diseases tied to breathing disorders in sleep, you increase your chances of dying.

Restriction of oxygen makes the body susceptible to a range of health issues.  The latest study discovered that all-cause mortality rose in men between 40 and 70 years of age with breathing disorders in sleep. 

Both short and long sleeping have ties with mortality, but the links are complex and intricate – a lot is not known about these correlations and sleep. 

A study on the blood of insomniacs found that constant short sleep leads to high C-reactive protein levels – an identifying marker for cardiovascular diseases. Short sleep can lead to excessive adipose tissue and increase the risk of obesity.  It reduces cognitive function, which reduces your reaction times and increases the likelihood of making bad decisions. 

Reduced reactivity of the brain and thinking abilities are regarded as the biggest risk due to poor sleep. The danger is not in something happening at night, but during the day. If you’re sleepy and driving, it could be lethal. When you’re working, you could injure yourself or may not be as productive. 

Though not really a danger, daytime sleepiness and sleep disorders can reduce your overall quality of life. While subjective, it’s still an issue. How can you enjoy life if you are constantly sleepy?


Diagnosis

You may think that it’s difficult to diagnose a sleep-related condition. However, there is an array of tools health professionals and patients can use to determine if they have a sleep disorder. 

Your own suspicion can help you recognize that you have a problem. If you have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or you’re overly tired the next day, it could be an issue. More so if you know that you are getting the recommended seven to eight hours a night. 

A family member can let you know if there is a problem too. Spouses and partners who sleep in the same bed as you will notice issues during your sleep. If the problem is in a child, it’s often the parents who notice common childhood sleep disorders. 

Speak to your doctor about the problems you are experiencing. S/he will suggest a sleep diary for several weeks and ask you what your sleep schedule is like. If s/he notices anything odd, s/he may suggest you going to a sleep clinic. 

Sleep technicians and researchers at the clinic will carry out an array of tests such as the polysomnogram. This involves you staying at the clinic overnight and the doctors monitoring your breathing, heart rate, brain waves, etc.  They may conduct the Multiple Sleep Latency Test which gauges how quickly you get to sleep and determines whether you have hypersomnia, narcolepsy, or any movement and breathing disorders. 


How Can You Naturally Improve Your Sleep Quality?

Believe it or not, better sleep is not that hard to get. You have to make some changes, but you also have natural sleeping aids and products that can help you.

The first step to improving your sleep health is to improve your sleep hygiene. Think of sleep hygiene like dental hygiene. You need to maintain a regular sleep schedule (weekends too), shut your electronics off for the night, only use the bedroom for sleep and sex (do not put work-related items in the bedroom), and set up a bedtime routine. 

There are all kinds of behavioral hacks that make it easy for you to fall asleep and give you the restful sleep your body needs.  You can regulate your body temperature by sleeping naked with the socks on. Or you can take a warm shower an hour before you go to bed.  Keep a sleep diary or monitor your sleep cycles on a smartwatch. Set the alarm for when you’re likely to be in the light stage of sleep.
There are sleep health products that you can use to improve your sleep health, such as CBD oils and teas that encourage sleep.


Tips for Healthy Sleep

A habit of healthy sleep will make a significant impact on your quality of life. If you want to go through your day feeling upbeat and well rested, create a good sleep hygiene routine and stick to it. What are some things you can do that will go a long way to improving your quality of life?

  • Stick to a fixed sleep schedule every day (and at weekends). This helps to keep the body clock regulated and ensures that you will fall asleep faster and remain asleep all night. 
  • Find a relaxing bedtime activity. Choose one that doesn’t involve bright lights, stress, excitement, and causing anxiety. All these things can hinder you from  falling into deep restful sleep.
  • If you have problems falling asleep at night, do not take naps in the day. While power naps can be useful to get you through the day, they can hinder you from getting a good night’s rest. 
  • Start a daily exercise routine. While it’s best to do vigorous exercise, light exercising is just as good. Exercise whenever you can, but not if it impacts your ability to get good sleep.
  • Arrange your bedroom. The best sleeping environment is is cool (between 60 and 67 degrees), dark, and quiet (a partner’s snoring can also be problematic). Use eye shades, blackout curtains, fans, white noise machines, humidifiers, earplugs, and other things to help you get the perfect sleeping atmosphere. 
  • Have a comfortable pillow and mattress that will support you. If you’ve been using the same mattress for more than 10 years, it may be time to change it. Choose pillows that look attractive and make you want to come in and sleep. Keep the room free from allergens and clutter (in case you get up in the middle of the night).
  • Wake up to sunlight in the morning and don’t expose yourself to bright light in the evening and night hours. 
  • Don’t drink, smoke, or consume a heavy meal at night. Caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol can have a negative effect on your sleeping pattern.  Eating a spicy or big meal can give you discomfort. Instead of eating a large meal two to three hours before you go to bed, eat earlier in the day and have a healthy snack an hour before bed if you happen to be hungry.
  • Slow down for the night. Your body will need some time to get into sleep mode. Take an hour before bed to do something calming, such as reading. A laptop or other electronic devices can make it difficult for many people to go to sleep. The blue light emanating from the screens keeps the brain active.  If you have problems sleeping, don’t use any electronics before bed or when you get up in the middle of the night. 
  • If you’re unable to sleep, take yourself out of the bedroom and find another place in the house to relax and get tired again. Do not have televisions, computers, or work related items in the bedroom. The bed should be used only for sleep and sex. If there is an activity that causes you stress about going to sleep, eliminate it from the bedtime routine. 
  • If you’re unable to sleep even after implementing these lifestyle changes and other things, talk to your doctor or see a sleep professional. You can also use a sleep diary to keep track of how you sleep, as it will help you gauge what sleep problems you might have and your sleep habits.

The Correlation of Sleep and Body Composition

According to a  study and a nationwide representative sample of around 10,000 adults the U.S. obesity crisis may be the result of a corresponding decrease in sleeping. The study found that people between 32 and 49 years of age who did not sleep more than seven hours a night were significantly more often obese. On top of that, staying awake past midnight also increased one’s chances of obesity. 

It suggests that there is a dose-response relationship – later bedtime equates to less sleep, which equates to a gain in body fat. A person’s wakeup time had no significant relevance on their obesity.

Another study involved over 9,000 children from birth and found that children who slept less at 30 months of age had a higher risk of being obese by the time they were seven.

It’s not known if poor quality of sleep is the result or cause of extra body fat (or a culmination of both). Some researchers theorize that sleep deprivation hinders hormones that control appetite, which leads to accumulation and storage of body fat. Others feel that it’s the physical discomfort of obesity itself (such as sleep apnea) that makes people sleep less. After all, sleep apnea has been known to hinder us from getting a good rest. 

There are all kinds of possibilities for lack of sleep affecting body fat. For example, a decrease in the growth and thyroid-stimulating hormones and an increase in cortisol during the evening hours may be a cause. Constantly restricting sleep can cause a rise in the sympathetic nerve activity and slow down insulin response. It all leads to borderline effects (listed below) that lead and contribute to obesity

  • reduced glucose tolerance
  • reduced leptin
  • increase in sympathovagal balance
  • increase in nocturnal and evening cortisol levels
  • lack of thyroid stimulating hormone

When you look at it from a more practical standpoint, the less time you sleep, the more time you have to eat. And it’s common to  get hungry while we watch junk food commercials at night. 

You may be wondering about appetite hormones. A study looked at 12 healthy young men of normal weight having two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep and no naps, and found a drop in the production of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin which signals hunger and cravings for processed foods such as bread, bakery, and sweets. Researchers believe that an upset of appetite hormones is why sleep deprivation causes people to gain weight. 

Less sleep means more bodyweight, but that’s not the only consequence of sleep deprivation on the human body. When people don’t get at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night, it increases their chances of:

  • glucose intolerance
  • insulin resistance
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • type 2 diabetes
  • sudden cardiac death

A study of eleven 20-something-year-old men required them to get four hours of sleep for six consecutive nights.  By the last day they had the insulin sensitivity of a prediabetic man in his 70s. This is very telling even from the small sample. 

Lack of sleep hinders one’s daily life too – affecting memory, cognition, and mood. Try going 24 hours without sleep. It’s about the same as drinking and performing with 0.10% of alcohol in the blood. With that even walking to the grocery store to find healthy food or going to the gym will be difficult. 


How Sleep Affects the Hormones

The brain has a built-in clock called suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and it’s in charge of the circadian rhythm. Since it sits above the optic nerve that crosses the hypothalamus, any exposure to darkness or light can affect the rhythms. There are many hormones that have a regular “daytime” cycle including:

  • adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)
  • the growth hormone (GH)
  • luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • melatonin
  • testosterone
  • TSH

When you go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning, it kicks the SCN into gear, and allows you to sleep deeply regularly as you have created a pattern that your body understands. 

There’s a wall between the outer world and conscious mind when you’re trying to go to sleep. While closing your eyes makes going to sleep easier, you could still fall asleep without doing so. How? It’s because melatonin is released into the bloodstream in the hours before you go to sleep due to the cyclical changes of light and darkness. 


Can Your Children’s Health Affect Their Sleep Health?

As a parent you're likely to watch your children’s exercise and diet. You give them the support they need to get good grades and make friends. You’ve created a home that allows them to develop, thrive, and be the people you always hoped they would become. Sleep is just as important to your children’s health as all other things. 

Children are no different from adults. Their immune system is compromised if they’re not getting the proper amount of sleep. If they’re not getting enough rest, they can get sick and miss out on school. If they do go to school, they may lack concentration to stay focused on their studies. 

Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in impulsivity and irritability, which will affect their relationships with others and lead to poor decisions. 

Like you, your children need to sleep - the better they sleep, the better they feel. And the happier they are, the happier you are! Of course, their sleeping needs are not the same as those of adults – they need more sleep than we do. The best thing you can do is set up a healthy sleep schedule for you and them, and show them that you’re practicing what you preach. This ensures that both you and your children will get the much-needed sleep to face the next day with optimism. 


Other Things You May Not Have Known About Sleep

  • Sleep debt builds up, which means that the more nights you go without enough sleep, the higher the chances of suffering from the negative effects. However, several consecutive days of good rest will reverse the problem. According to experts every hour of sleep debt will need to be repaid in time. 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of a collapse of the soft tissue in the airway. It’s seen more in people who are extremely overweight or obese. Sufferers may stop breathing for short periods of time, which also affects the quality of their sleep.  And it’s not yet known if having OSA surgery can improve this problem.
  • When you’re stressed out, the body releases excessive amounts of cortisol, which also affects the quality of your sleep. However, using certain supplements such as valerian root and phosphatidylserine can help control the body’s cortisol levels and improve your overall quality of sleep.  You can also control cortisol levels by eating the right amounts of protein and carbohydrates after you exercise. 
  • Several tricyclic antidepressants can affect the body’s ability to get into REM sleep – bolstering the evidence that mood and sleep do go hand in hand. 
  • Sleep can improve your memory recall and formation. 
  • You can lower your blood pressure with a mere nap or good night’s rest.

What You Need to Remember

The majority of researchers agree that the duration of sleep can affect your weight, which is why it’s important to develop a healthy sleeping routine in hand with healthy nutrition and exercise.
Society may be busy, but there is no reason to subject yourself to less sleep. You choose what you spend your time on – working, school, surfing the Internet, family, etc. – the roughly 16 hours you are awake. However, it’s still imperative to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.  When you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re choosing that instead of health.  

If you are concerned about how much sleep you’re getting and the quality of it, determine if you’re getting a reasonable amount of sleep.  This is why many sleep experts suggest a sleep diary. 

  • Do you get between seven and eight hours of sleep every night?
  • If you don’t, what’s keeping you from doing so?
  • Do you take medications?
  • Do you have bad sleeping habits?

It’s important to get to the heart of the issue so that you can get the benefits from sleep. 

It’s important that you reprioritize sleep, making it an important part of your overall healthy lifestyle. What are some factors to take into consideration when developing a better sleeping pattern?

  • Be consistent – stick to a consistent bed and wake up time. If you stay up late at weekends when you normally go to bed early, you’ll have a tough time getting back into the routine during the week.
  • Avoid too much light – make your room is as dark as possible when going to bed. It tells the body that it’s time to wind down. 
  • Limit noise – have very little noise in the room or a white noise generator (perhaps a fan). 
  • Cooler temps – aim for 66 to 72 degrees. 
  • Relax – create a bedtime routine that doesn’t involve stressful things such as computer use, television, movies, etc. 
  • Don’t take stimulants – avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine late in the day. 
  • Don’t consume A heavy meal – avoid eating a big meal a couple of hours before bed, as your stomach needs time to digest the food.
  • Exercise earlier – while it may seem that exercising at night can help to relax you, it does the opposite. Exercise earlier in the day, so your body can relax.

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