Week 2: Getting Enough Sleep Is One Of The Most Important Habits To Your Health!

I know getting enough water and enough sleep may seem like a no-brainer but how many of you really make it a habit to ensure you actually are getting enough? Not sleeping and not sleeping well is NOT okay. Did you know that studies show there is an increased mortality rate in those that get less than 7 hours a night? One study showed that it has a higher mortality risk than smoking and high blood pressure and is the number one predictor for institutionalization in elderly. One more study showed that those that slept less than 6 hours a night had a 4 times increase in risk for stroke.  Sleep loss contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimers, depression and mood disorders, weakened immune system, increased risk for certain cancers, injuries from accidents, mental impairment, can lead to Osteoporosis, and poor quality of life. Sleeping TOO MUCH can also have the same detrimental effects to your health!

Anyone trying to lose weight should make sure that they are getting between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each night. A Harvard study actually found a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. Here are some tips on improving your sleep quality:

  1. SUPPORT YOUR BODY’S NATURAL RHYTHMS. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Sticking to a sleep/wake cycle helps your body optimize your quality of sleep. Avoid sleeping in on weekends or night’s you stayed up late. This disrupts your internal clock & creates jet-lag like symptoms. Take small naps to catch up on sleep. Smart napping.  Napping can help you recharge or make up lost sleep, but if you suffer from insomnia, it could worsen your condition.
  2. CONTROL YOUR EXPOSURE TO LIGHT. Expose yourself to sunlight in morning. In the morning, have your coffee or breakfast outside or at a window. Let enough natural light in the house and workplace and spend more time outside during daytime.  At night, avoid exposure to bright screens 2 hours before bed. All night-time light can interfere with body’s rhythms. Watching television before bed can suppress melatonin needed to fall asleep. When it is time for bed, make sure room is dark and if you have to get up during the night, keep light dim like using a nightlight.
  3. GET REGULAR EXERCISE. Studies show that regular exercise can improve sleep quality, insomnia, and sleep apnea symptoms. The more vigorous the exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. However, even light exercise such as walking 10 to 15 minutes a day will improve sleep. Try to finish any exercise programs at least 3 hours before bedtime if you work out in evenings.  For some people it can take 6 hours for the body to wind down.
  4. BE SMART ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT OR DRINK. Cut down on caffeine and large meals at night. Try to make dinner time earlier in evening and cut down on rich foods. Fatty foods take longer to digest and acidic or spicy foods can cause heartburn or stomach problems. Avoid alcohol before bed as it can interfere with your sleep cycle. Avoid drinking too many liquids as it can cause you to get up multiple times and disrupt your sleep.
  5. DEEP BREATHING OR RELAXTION TECHNIQUES. Do you find yourself going to bed stressed or worried? Calming your mind is a great way to improve sleep. Try deep breathing before going to sleep. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out, make each breath deeper than the next until you feel yourself relax. Close your eyes and visualize a place that you feel relaxed.

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