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LIVING WELL: The Importance of Sleep

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

"Sleep deprivation is a contributing cause of preventable chronic illnesses and weight gain."

"1 in 4 adults report sleep deprivation on a regular basis"

Sleep is so important to our mental health and quality of life. It helps to repair tissues, synthesize hormones, retain information, reduce health problems, and increase performance in our everyday lives. It is the longevity secret of many and the solution for a lot of health issues in America. Sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, hormonal influxes, weakened immune systems, and negative reoccurring moods. However, these detrimental outcomes do not stand alone, it simply opens the pathway for harsher and possibly fatal health outcomes. Long term sleep deprivation patterns are consistently linked with premature aging, chronic illnesses, and unintentional weight gain. While getting enough sleep isn't the only solution to better health, it can produce dividends in your overall quality of life. Those who reported healthy sleep patterns have fewer calorie intake, increased levels of focus, better memory, higher physical stamina, healthy weights, and libido. It is suggested, that adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep every night to perform at an optimal level.

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep has a direct correlation to feelings of confusion, loss of memory, and mood disorders. When you are sleep deprived, there is also a heightened proclivity to experience irritation, anger, and long term depression. Sleep deprivation can also leave your brain exhausted, making it difficult to learn new things and process information correctly. During sleep, your central nervous system is working to create pathways between neurons and your brain to store newly learned information. If you are sleep deprived, your brain cannot properly store information and the signals are weakened or vaguely lost during that process. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults report not having an adequate amount of sleep on a daily basis. This contributes to the alarming number of sleep-related injuries and mistakes on the job. Committing to a solid sleeping schedule can dramatically improve your mental health and improve your internal biological systems.

Research & Statistics:

"Adults who were short sleepers (less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period) were more likely to report being obese, physically inactive, and current smokers compared to people who got enough sleep (7 or more hours per 24-hour period)" CDC

"Harvard Medical School researchers surveyed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. in 2012, and found that insomnia is responsible for 274,000 workplace accidents and errors each year, totaling $31 billion in costs." Harvard Medical School

"According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours." WebMD

"Nearly 40 percent of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month.  Also, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic (ongoing) sleep disorders." NIH

How to Improve your Sleep:

1. Exercise earlier in the day or at least three hours before going to bed. Exercising before bed can increase energy levels, disrupt heart rate, and adversely affect your sleep cycles.

2. Listen to your body. If you need to take a nap during the day, take it, align yourself with the sleep cycles that are true for you.

3. Cut off the lights and reduce screen time. You don't have to remove your phone from your bedroom but cutting down screentime and turning off the lights will stop melatonin production. The sleep hormone needed to relax and enjoy a good night's sleep.

4. Avoid sugar and caffeine before bedtime: Eating sugary foods before bedtime has been linked to nightmares and disruption in energy levels. "A study published in Frontiers in Psychology tested 396 students to see if there was a correlation between diet and dreams. They found that 31% of subjects reported bizarre and disturbing dreams after eating cookies and cake."

5. Schedule your Sleep. Typically adults require 7-9 hours of sleep to combat the side effects of deprivation. This schedule should be consistent to reap optimal results, even on the weekends.

6. Cultivate a Comfortable Environment for Sleep. Evaluate the room temperature, room distractions, quality comfortable mattress, and pillows. Practicing good sleep hygiene by washing pillowcases, sheets, and comforter also can increase sleep quality.

7. Relaxing Bath before Bedtime. Integrating essential oils, bath salts, and bubble bath will relax your muscles and raise the body temperature, allowing you to fall asleep faster.



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