Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Night’s Sleep

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I don't know about you guys, but over the past several weeks, I haven't had too many restful slumbers. Between concerns over the current state of affairs, the economic situation, dealing with some overtraining issues, and just trying to cram all that I can in a 24 hour time frame, sleep is the one area in my life that I have come up a little short on.

I have always been one to need good, quality sleep to function. In fact I wonder how I ever made it through college, my young adult years, and yes, even parenthood on so little shut eye. But the older I get the more I appreciate a good restful night’s sleep.

So why is sleep so instrumental in our lives? Well, sleep is what allows us to handle our emotions better, helps aid in our thought process, improves our immune system, and even allows our bodies to recover and prepare for the next day’s task. Sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, irritability and slow reaction time. And it has been reported that going without sleep for weeks on end can even be fatal.

Some studies even suggest that when we short change our shut eye time this can play havoc on our weight. When we are sleep deprived the body raises the hormone, ghrelin which is responsible for stimulating our appetite, while suppressing the hormone leptin which is responsible for keeping our appetite under control. Therefore, we may find ourselves eating more when we sleep less because of this scenario.

How much sleep one needs varies from person to person. That being said, studies have shown that those people who get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night diminish their risk of developing health issues.

So how do we get a good night’s sleep?

Below are a few suggestions to get that quality sleep

  • Try keeping your sleep time routine constant throughout the week, including weekends. Sleeping in on the weekends can disturb your body’s natural circadian rhythm therefore throwing off your sleep schedule for a few days.

  • Prepare yourself mentally and physically for sleep. This may be taking a warm bath, reading, meditating, and even listening to some calming music.

  • Try drinking some warm milk or eating a high carbohydrate snack before bedtime. Milk contains trytophan which has been known to have a calming effect.

  • Prepare your room for sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, keep it cool but not so cold that you cannot keep warm, and if you must, move your clock. (Becoming a clock watcher can only lead to more aggravation and tension).

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, some cold medications, and exercise, within 3 hours of bedtime. All of these can lead to problems getting to sleep and/or allowing you to sleep through the night.

  • If you find difficulty falling asleep, the best thing is to get out of bed, find something to do until you feel drowsy. Staying in bed may only make you more anxious.

  • Print out the following calendar on ways to get a healthy and sound sleep.

  • If you have tried all measures and still find it difficult getting in quality sleep, do not be afraid to talk with your health care provider about this issue. Getting a good night’s sleep not only allows us to function in our daily lives; it allows our bodies to adapt to all the daily stresses we place on it.

    Do you feel you get an adequate amount of sleep? What do you do when you can’t sleep? Have you found yourself having greater difficulties sleeping because of our current state of affairs?