When we look at all the neural, cellular and endocrine systems that benefit from sleep, it is no wonder that sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on everything from our memory to our metabolism and, maybe most noticeably, our mood.
Unfortunately, an estimated one-third of our population suffers from chronic sleep deprivation (aka insomnia). Each generation seems to be getting less and less sleep, however, there is no indication that our needs have changed. This additional stress on the body can have an overall systemic response, leading to increased risk for diabetes, cardiac disease, obesity and overall decreased cognitive function.
Don’t despair. If you or someone you know struggles with sleep, there are small interventions you can utilize to improve this essential part of your health. Besides the conventional wisdom to limit caffeine, alcohol, exercise or large meals close to bedtime, try some of these tips to improve sleep habits:
1. Support your body’s natural rhythms: Keep your bedtime and wake-up time consistent as much as possible, and try to keep naps to 30 minutes or less.
2. Limit exposure to blue light: Put electronics away at least two hours before bed.
3. Don’t lie in bed awake: If more than 10 minutes have passed and you are still awake, get up and do something relaxing without bright lights.
4. Leave your worries behind: Use a journal or to-do list to write down those racing thoughts and forget about them until tomorrow.
5. Create a sleep-conducive environment: What do you prefer -- a cool, quiet, dark room; noise machine; or black out curtains?
6. Use your bedroom for sleep only: Remove any stimulating or anxiety-provoking activities from your room.
7. Choose food wisely: If you need a bedtime snack choose low-protein, healthy carbohydrates paired with dairy (or dairy alternative) to keep your blood sugar stable overnight. If you are very hungry before bed, this may be a sign you need more carbohydrates in your overall diet.
Bottom Line: Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Adequate sleep is an important part of overall wellness. Make getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night a priority to boost your mood and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3
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