Sleep: The Importance of ZZZs
Episode #7 of the course 10 days to better wellness by Alyce Eyster
“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.” —Wilson Mizner
Today we are chatting about sleep, why it is important, how much you need and how to get more.
It is easy to see how proper nutrition and exercise are important to general wellness. Additionally, sleep is an important piece of the puzzle as it is vital to mental and physical health.
Most people are familiar with the feeling after a bad night’s sleep—there’s a distinct low energy feel combined with lack of focus and just generally feeling “out of it.” Moreover, WebMD writes that lack of adequate sleep can cause you to feel “dumbed down,” forgetful, cause you to age, impair judgment and cause accidents as discussed in this article on the site.
Sleep helps your brain work properly, and it helps in the repair of heart and blood vessels. Sleep affects various hormones in the body like those that make you feel hungry, maintain blood sugar and repair cell tissue and build muscle mass. It also helps your immune system stay strong.
How Lack of Sleep Makes You Eat More
The Sleep Foundation says that “people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared with those who sleep for eight hours.” This happens because the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and the hormone leptin, which decreases appetite, are affected by sleep. When the body is sleep-deprived the ghrelin spikes and the leptin falls, leading to an increase in hunger.
Optimum Sleep Hygiene
For optimum sleep hygiene, follow these tips as a guideline:
• Ideally, strive to go to bed at the same time every night of the week, with the goal of getting 7-9 hours of sleep.
• Limit caffeinated beverages and if you are sensitive to them, avoid them after lunch. Also, try to get all the drinking of water done by 5 pm so that a bathroom break does not interrupt your sleep cycle at night.
• Limit television/video/computer time before bed or dim screens to nighttime settings.
• Lower the temperature of a room if at all possible.
• Avoid overeating and drinking too much alcohol close to bedtime.
• Develop a nighttime routine like a warm bath, cup of herbal tea and perhaps some reading to wind down.
Tomorrow: We’ll find out why the body-mind connection is so important.
Similar to water, you’ve probably heard common recommendations like the importance of getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Interesting to note, your sleep debt builds over time, so that if you lose 6 hours of sleep over a week, that’s how much you require to get back on track.
Recommended TED video
How to succeed? Get more sleep! by Arianna Huffington
Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
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