Have you heard the phrase “I will catch up on my sleep when I am dead”? Well, the ironic thing is if you consistently get less than 7 hours of sleep per night, you may get that chance to catch up on your sleep sooner than you thought! In fact, researchers at University of Chicago found that after 32 days of sleep deprivation, all the rats in their study were dead. Do I have your attention now??
Why Sleep is Important:
- Your body cleans out toxins and damaged cells, resets your immune system, and turns on the rest and repair hormones at night.
- The brain does its own clean up at night, reorganizing information, boosting memory and facilitates learning and brain growth.
Sleep Loss Leads to:
- Increased risk for obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and mood disorders.
- Decreased mental function including decision making, reaction time, memory, communication, situational awareness are decreased by 20-50%. That’s like taking a few days of vacation time per week as far as lost productivity goes.
- Increase in calorie intake by up to 500 calories/day.More wear and tear on your body.
- Decreased mental function.
How To Sleep Better
- Avoid or cut back on caffeine: Some people metabolize caffeine slowly so even a morning cup of coffee can affect your sleep. A good rule if you really can’t cut caffeine is: No coffee after noon.
- Limit alcohol: Yes, it helps some fall asleep but it interferes with your deep sleep and delays the REM cycle. It can also lead to a blood sugar dip, which can wake you up. Expose yourself to morning sunlight.
- Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only.
- Eliminate all screens from the bedroom.
- Set a screen curfew for 2 hours before you want to go to sleep. Download free software or an app called f.lux, which reduces the blue light of your screen. Some people wear amber colored glasses while watching TV or using the computer.
- Stick to a regular routine of going to bed at the same time every night.Unwind before you go to sleep.
- Write down whatever is on your mind whether it is a to do list or something bothering you.
- Better yet, write down 3 things you are grateful for. Studies have shown this improves sleep.
- Exercise during the day but not later than 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Meditate, stretch, do yoga or just a total body relaxation before bed to rid the body of excess stress. Slow, deep belly breathing turns on your relaxing nervous system.
- Avoid liquids 2-3 hours before bedtime. Drink enough water during the day. (6-8 cups)
- Sleep in a quiet, completely dark, cool room (64-68 degrees).
- Use ear plugs or white noise machines and an eye mask if needed.