October’s Healthy Lifestyle Habit

Need Sleep?

Questions: Do you get enough sleep? How much is enough? Does it really matter over the long haul?

Answers: Probably not. Seven to eight hours seems to be ideal. Sleep is just as newborn-216723_640important as diet and exercise, as it pertains to good health.

This is one of those habits that tends to get overlooked; yet it has a HUGE impact on our health. Studies show that a lack of sleep may contribute to weight gain and obesity. When we don’t get our required amount of sleep, hormones that affect appetite and other important functions may get out of whack. Another big (and perhaps the most obvious) reason that non-sleepers gain weight is simple: they are awake more hours and can do more eating.

Folks who get less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac arrest, than those who get more zzzz’s. Along with the weight gain that may be attributed to sleep deficiency, there is also the increased likelihood of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes.

Wow. Feeling like you should go take a nap?

I think some people think it is heroic to get less sleep; like it is a badge of honor because they are getting more done. Or, perhaps they just like to stay up and watch movies or late night TV to relax. Then, there’s the college-age crowd that studies until some crazy hour, or decides to meet up with friends starting at 11pm. Oh, youth!

Some do not get proper rest because of untreated sleep apnea. If you think your loved one stops breathing during the night, snores loud enough to wake the neighbors, or falls asleep anytime they sit still during the day, consider a sleep apnea test. It could add years to their life, not to mention, life to their years. I know many people who are much happier and healthier because they now have their CPAP machines at night. Their spouses are happier too!                                                                                                            morning-1092771_640What can you do to encourage better sleep habits?
*Maintain consistent bedtimes and wake times, even on weekends
*Keep the room dark and quiet
*Try some form of relaxation and self-care before bedtime, which excludes TV, movies, computers, and stressful discussions
*Keep the temperature of the room between 66 and 72 degrees F
*Avoid any stimulants like caffeine and nicotine later in the day
*Regular exercise improves sleep, although some do not do well exercising in the evening
*Avoid going to bed with a full stomach
*Get help for sleep apneaice-cream-967094_640

So, based on these suggestions for restful sleep, I guess eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream while watching The Walking Dead could explain why I don’t sleep well some nights.

There is always room for improvement…. Sweet dreams!

Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds. ~JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002

(Reference: Precision Nutrition Blog: All About Sleep by Ryan Andrews)

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