March is National Sleep Awareness Month!
What a great time to reevaluate your sleep habits. How much sleep do you get each night? You are likely aware that the recommended hours of sleep for an adult is 7-8 per night. Though this can be challenging at times, sleep provides many benefits:
- Tissue growth and repair occurs
- Muscles relax and receive more blood flow
- Our blood pressure drops
- Energy is provided to the brain and body
- Hormones are released, such as growth hormone
What occurs when you lack proper sleep?
- Accidents occur
- Cognitive function is impaired (poor attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving)
- Higher potential for depression
- May lead to weight gain
- Can lead to serious health issues: heart disease, stroke, diabetes
- Weaken immunity, increase inflammation, and decrease cell repair
How To Get More Sleep
Ok, so you may know that you need to sleep more and the benefits, but how can you catch more Z’s? Below are sleep hygiene tips. Please share them with your loved ones, it will make a difference for all of us!
Avoid Potential Stimulants
- Avoid caffeinated drinks or food for 6 hours prior to going to bed
- Avoid alcohol for at least 4 hours before going to bed (this may help you fall asleep, but not stay asleep)
- Avoid decongestant cold medicine at night
- Avoid large meals or spicy food for at least 3 hours before bed
- Avoid nicotine completely or at least before going to bed
Avoid Potential Nighttime Tension or Anxiety
- Avoid reading or watching the news before going to bed
- Avoid paying bills, checking financial reports, etc before bed
- Avoid arguments before going to bed (good luck with that one!)
Plan Your Sleep
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your biological clock
- If you don’t fall asleep within 30 min, get up and do something quiet and non-stimulating
- Avoid “forcing yourself to sleep”, the anxiety can be counter-productive
- Avoid afternoon naps
Remove Potential Distractions
- Try using earplugs and eyeshades to block out all noise and light
- Move the alarm clock away from the bed
- Do not watch TV, read, use gadgets or write in bed.
Get Yourself Physically Tired
- Regular exercise (walking, weight training, yoga, etc)
- Exercise may help to deepen sleep (suggested 45 min 3-5x/week)
Relax and Breathe
- Listen to a relaxation CD or app that teaches progressive physical and mental relaxation along with deep focused diaphragmatic breathing.
One last benefit to a full night of sleep is an improved bowel routine in the morning. Our bodies love regularity and having a bowel movement at the same time each day provides a multitude of benefits on your body as a whole.
Need help sleeping? Call me at (518) 632-4944 or contact me online for more information!