Why Sleep Matters

I am mixing things up a bit here and doing more of a “medical Monday”.  I have found myself wanting to share more about the things I have learned through my studies in Physician Assistant school and feel especially called to do so as I am inching closer and closer to graduation and becoming a practicing PA.  That being said, this blog is not to serve as medical advice.  Any concerns you have should be taken up with your own PCP!

 

On to today’s topic … SLEEP.  We all know that we need sleep but I don’t think many of us know why.  Sure it’s to recharge our batteries and provide us with energy for the next day but good sleep does so much more.  The average adult gets about 6 hours of sleep each night and experts recommend between 7-9 hours.  I not only want to share with you WHY sleep matters but also give you some tips on how you can improve your own sleep hygiene.

 

why sleep matters

Why Sleep Matters

Good sleep is important for a number of reasons.  When we sleep the cell’s in our body undergo repair.  This process helps repair cells damaged by stress throughout the day or mend the muscles you worked out.  Also during sleep your brain spends time sorting through your thoughts from the day.  It filters out the things we don’t need to retain and cements memories that you do.  Additionally, some studies have shown that people who get at least 7 hours or more of sleep at night have a better working immune system and are able to ward off illness better.  Furthermore chronic sleep deprivation puts you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a number of other chronic health problems.

sleeping emmie

Tips for a Better Night Sleep

  1. Be consistent in your habits.  This means going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day.  Yes, this includes the weekends!
  2. Ditch the Electronics.  You should turn off anything electronic within 1 hour before going to bed.  The blue light from your iPad, iPhone, or TV is disruptive to your body’s natural rhythms.  If you must use a screen, turn down the brightness.
  3. Nap Smart.  If you feel that you can’t get by without a nap keep them to 30 minutes or less.  If you have difficulty falling asleep at night you should try to avoid napping as much as possible.
  4. Get out in the Sun.  Your brain secrets a naturally occurring hormone called melatonin which helps with your sleepiness.  It is secreted less with sunshine exposure and more when it’s dark out.  Working away from sunshine can confuse your brain and make you more sleepy so if you’re able to get out for a quick walk break it can help curb your daytime sleepiness.  Additionally, at night you should darken your bedroom with either blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask.
  5. Turn Down Your Thermostat.  Most people sleep better in a slightly cool room with a temperature between 65-70F.
  6. Get in Your Exercise.  Exercising regularly helps improve the quality of your sleep and benefits can be seen with as little as 10 minutes of walking a day.
  7. Cut the Caffeine.  If you’re like me then you live on coffee, but there should be a cut off point in your day.  For me I try to not have any more caffeine after 2PM.
  8. Say No to Booze.  Why drinking alcohol may make you feel sleepy it actually interferes with your sleep cycle so a night cap before bed isn’t the best choice.
  9. Practice Relaxation.  Since you’ve turned off your electronics practicing relaxation techniques is a great way to end your day.  You can spend time writing a list for your “to dos”, meditate, do some gentle yoga, or simply practice deep breathing.
  10. Keep Your Bed for Sleep and Sex.  If you want to read before bed that’s fine, but do it in a chair or on a pillow on the floor.  You should only associate your beed with either sleep or adult activities.  Your brain will form that habit and your ability to go to sleep will improve with time.

 

If you have tried to establish good sleep habits but are still having problems then you should definitely talk about it with your healthcare provider!  I hope these tips help you when you try to go to sleep tonight :)  Let me know if you have any requests for a future Medical Monday!

 

How do you ensure you get a good quality sleep?

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