5 FACTORS OF HEALTH - SLEEP
As promised over the course of the next few weeks we will be writing about the 5 Factors of Health. The average adult ages 27 - 64 needs a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night! The National Sleep Foundation released the results of a 2 year world class study on sleep and how much we really need at each age.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Lack of sleep can negatively affect our bodies by:
- Preventing immune system strengthening thus causing the body to produce less cytokines to fight infection
- Increasing the risk for new and advanced respiratory infections
- Affecting hormone regulation causing our hunger and satiety hormones, leptin & ghrelin to be unbalanced which could lead to weight gain. In addition lack of sleep affects the production of testosterone in men
- Increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease
- Weakening the prefrontal cortex of our brain thus leading to the abnormal processing of emotions.
These are just a few of the adverse effects lack of sleep can have on our bodies. Hopefully this list is enough to make you want to take steps to better your sleep experience.
Is Sleep Debt a Thing?
Yes! Sleep debt is a real thing! When you fail to get your required amount of sleep you begin to accumulate a sleep debt. If you need 8 hours of sleep but you only get 5 you have a sleep debt of 3 hours. Continuing to get fewer hours of sleep than required will increase your sleep debt. The only way to pay a sleep debt back is TO GET MORE SLEEP + the sleep you missed out on. If you find you are consistently low on sleep it is very important for your health to keep track of this missed sleep and find ways to add an hour into your sleep routine daily until you can fully recover.
Making Good Sleep Habits
Making good sleep habits will not only help you pay back your sleep debt, but will ensure you are setting yourself up for success when it comes to sleeping well in the future. Here are some tips to help!
- Follow a bedtime routine and keep it consistent throughout the week.
- Set a sleep alarm ½ hour before it’s time to go to bed.
- Start the ritual of brushing your teeth, changing your clothes, washing your face, stretching and winding down.
- Practice the same routine every night when your sleep alarm goes off so your body gets used to this and it becomes a habit.
- Go to bed when tired
- Avoid overeating before bed time. If your belly is uncomfortable you may struggle to fall asleep.
- If unable to fall asleep in 20 minutes, get up and read a book until you feel sleepy again.
- Use your bedroom for sleep only. Your mind needs to know you have a safe place to sleep. Doing crafts, watching movies and playing video games in your sleep space can cause your mind to associate this room with activities rather than sleep. Move your activities to a different room.
- Exercise daily
- Keep the bedroom quiet, completely dark and cool between 60-67 degrees
Let's make a pact! This month our goal is to get 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night.
Although not foolproof, there are many apps out there that can track sleep. If you have an Apple watch or Fitbit you can use those devices. There are also many apps on our smartphones that will track the basic hours of sleep. The next time you hear someone say “it’s just sleep”, forward this blog to them so they can learn the real problems sleep deprivation can have. Sleep easy and be well!
Coach Heather Kiddoo, Live Active 563
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