The Power of Sleep
The Power of Sleep
By: Dr. Roger Landry, MD, MPH
In our time-obsessed culture, we pride ourselves on multi-tasking, on how busy we are and how little sleep we can get and still function … An estimated 40% of the people in the US alone are not getting enough sleep. In addition to work-related sleep deprivation, stress and physical discomfort are important players in how much, and how well, we sleep. Furthermore, as we age, our sleep patterns change, and we find ourselves spending less time in the deeper stages of sleep. It is in the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage where our bodies go into repair – growing new tissue, building bones and muscles, and enhancing our immune system.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, poor memory, Type 2 diabetes and unnaturally speeding up the aging process. It is also a major cause of accident-related injuries. If you were to take away one important point from today’s message, it’s this: Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. Make sleep a priority, and make sure you’re getting a minimum of seven hours per evening.
Fortunately, for those who are having trouble sleeping, there are solutions. In a recent article by friend and colleague, Neal Miller (Senior Partnership & Outcomes Specialist), Neal outlines simple modifications we can adopt in our daily routine to promote better sleep, such as avoiding heavy meals before bedtime, limiting beverages (particularly caffeine and alcohol) three hours prior to going to bed, and reserving high-impact exercises for earlier in the day.
Five More Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep:
- Exercise daily – Studies show that a regular exercise routine will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Manage stress– Find ways to quiet the “chattering mind” through mindfulness exercises or meditation. “Unplug” at least an hour before bedtime.
- Block light, particularly from electronics – Light from these devices disrupt our sleep cycle and delays the production of melatonin.
- Minimize sound pollution– Sleeping with the TV on, or in a noisy environment, will impact the quality of your sleep, even if it doesn’t wake you up. Minimize noise.
- Keep the room temperature at a comfortable level – When you are comfortable, you’re less stressed and less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.
Live Long. SLEEP Well!