The importance of getting your ZZZ’s
Dr. Rachel Steiner
Studies show that 35% of adults sleep on an average of less than 7 hours in a 24-hour day. It is recommended that adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, while children and teens need up to 9 hours of sleep a night. Investing in good sleep habits is crucial for maintaining brain health, regulating the energy levels of our cells, reducing stress levels, and aids in the healing processes that do not take place when we are active and awake. Our quality of sleep should be just as important as our diet and physical activity levels. Research shows that those who consistently do not get the proper amount of rest have an increased risk of high blood pressure, cancer, heart problems, depression, and other diseases. When our cells are not able to recharge through sleep, they naturally wear down decreasing the daily function of our organs and will eventually lead to a compromised immune system. Outside of our health, a lack of sleep increases the chances of car accidents, occupational errors, and difficulty performing daily tasks. The quality and timing of sleep are important factors for getting the proper rest each night and there are easy steps to take to make sure you are allowing your body to get quality sleep.
FOOD FOR SLEEP
Our diet impacts all aspects of our well being including our quality of sleep. Healthy fats such as coconut oil, eggs, avocado, and raw nuts provide our body with the necessary building blocks to produce hormones which aid in sleep. Foods high in antioxidant such as blueberries, leafy green vegetables, and green tea are also important for hormone production and removal of harmful toxins that can negatively affect our sleep. Avoiding sugars and carbs especially at night can increase sleep quality due to the fact that these foods can cause a blood sugar spike and crash affect that will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep.
YOUR SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Your sleep environment is extremely important for sleep quality and for allowing your body to fall into the deep sleep we need to get the benefits of shuteye. Removing all artificial light including the television, phone, night lights, and even your alarm clock can help assure a proper environment for sleep. Try switching out an annoying alarm sound with a gentle noise such as a sunlight alarm clock that will wake you up much more gently. Many people dread the sound of their alarm and can cause anxiety if you wake up before your alarm and are anticipating the sound.
COPE WITH SHIFT WORK SLEEP DISORDER
A disrupted sleep schedule caused by working nights or irregular shifts can lead to sleepiness in the work place, mood swings, and decreased energy levels. Shift workers tend to suffer from sleeping at home during the day and staying awake at work during the night. Obviously we can’t choose when we work but there are some steps to take to make sure you are still getting quality sleep. If you drink caffeinated drinks, try to consume them early in your shift as opposed to the end when you are feeling tired. Although they may be necessary to get through the last couple hours of work, it will be harder to fall asleep when it comes time to go to bed. Try to stay on a routine even if you are on nights, try to lie down at the same time after you are off work and wake up around the same time each day. If possible, try to limit the number of night or irregular shifts you work in a row to prevent sleep deprivation from setting in. If that is not possible, avoid rotating shifts if you can to maintain the same sleep schedule. When the weekend rolls around or your nonworking days, make it a priority to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep and pay off some of your “sleep debt”.
I hope these tips can be of use to many people who are sleep deprived. In our crazy busy society, sleep is one thing that can always be pushed to the wayside if needed. Think of a good nights sleep as crucial as it is for you to eat or make it to work on time, it is a must for proper health and wellness.