The Many Important Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
Everyone (and we mean everyone) craves a good night’s sleep. A healthy night of slumber affects every aspect of your day-to-day life making restful sleep absolutely fundamental to overall health.
Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, a good night’s sleep is elusive. At least 20 million Americans experience occasional sleeping problems and 40 million suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders.
The repercussions of sleep can be harmful both physically and emotionally. People don’t only feel tired the next day, but the loss of sleep has a variety of serious and negative effects including:
• high stress levels and mood swings
• difficulty concentrating and problem-solving
• inability to pay attention to detail
• less productivity and poor performance at work
Effects on Health
Additionally, there are significant health issues associated with lack of sleep. Sleep disorders inhibit your body’s immune system to fight disease, increase the risk of diabetes and can even lead to high blood pressure levels.
The potential impact on cardiovascular health is also frightening. The National Sleep Association states that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.
Sleep, obesity and poor food choices appear to be linked. Long-term negative sleep patterns impact the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. A published research study provided evidence that “A sleepless night makes us more likely to reach for doughnuts or pizza.” These researchers discovered that “high-calorie foods became significantly more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived.”
And worst of all, loss of sleep can lead to death. Drowsy drivers are involved in an estimated 21 percent of fatal crashes, according to the Automobile Club of America (AAA).
Sleep and Kids
Children suffer from lack of sleep, as determined by researchers at Penn State who found that 90 percent of kids in their study did not sleep the full amount of time recommended for their age group.
It is important to start good sleeping habits early in life to avoid issues with lack of sleep including:
• behavioral problems
• impaired learning and school performance
• sports injuries
• problems with emotions
• increased tendency toward obesity
• susceptibility to high-risk behaviors including substance abuse and suicidal behaviors
Not All Doom and Gloom
Don’t despair if you are having trouble sleeping. Try these helpful tips:
1. Develop a Consistent Routine
Sleep experts emphasize the need to create a daily routine which involves going to bed at a set time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Before you hop under the covers, wind down and relax. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode. Spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading or taking a warm bath. Keeping a consistent sleep cycle helps the body’s internal clock stay regulated.
2. Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol
Most experts advise stopping all items that contain caffeine such as soft drinks, coffee, caffeinated tea, Red Bull, chocolate, etc., six hours prior to bed. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and will keep you awake longer than you wish. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and REM sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep, causing drowsiness the next morning.
3. Put Down the Electronics
It may be tempting to check that email one last time before sleep, but it is detrimental to text, watch TV, or play games on your Smartphone. A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95% of people use some type of computer, video game or cell phone at least a few nights a week within an hour of going to bed. The specific type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is stimulating to the brain and disrupts sleep.
4. Get Up
If you can't get to sleep, don't lie in bed. After 15-30 minutes try something else, like reading, meditating or listening to music, until you feel tired. The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.
5. Control Your Room Temperature
The ideal bedroom temperature should be between a cool 60 and 67 degrees. Extreme temperatures may disrupt or prevent you from falling asleep. Too hot or too cold can also affect the quality of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the stage of sleep with the highest brain activity.
Caution: Sleep Debt
Many people believe that if that if they don’t get enough sleep during the week, they can catch up on the weekend. This is simply a myth. It is not possible to make up for lost sleep. And “sleeping in" on weekends resets your sleep cycle, making it more difficult to wake up early on Monday morning.
When someone mentions “sleep aids” you may think of medications or natural herbal remedies or even a sound machine. But did you know that a mattress can often be your best sleep aid?
A quality mattress is one of the best things you can invest in for a good night sleep. With a multitude of options, purchasing a mattress can be overwhelming.
Start with the type of support. There are innerspring mattresses, “hybrids” that offer layers of foam on top of the springs, memory foam styles that prevent you from feeling every toss and turn of your partner, pillow top, and so much more. Since deciding on a mattress is a personal choice, definitely “try before you buy” and lie down on any mattress that you’re considering. In addition, be sure to understand the warranty and the return policy just in case the mattress doesn’t fit your needs.
Today there are all types of configurations from mattresses with cooling gel designs to beds with adjustable bases that control the height of your head and feet so you can enjoy the ultimate level of comfort. There are even some models that can help reduce the snoring of your spouse.
Sleepy’s, home of the only Mattress Professionals at the time they opened in 1957, they have been providing customers with quality service and sleep products. Now, with over 1000 retail showrooms, Sleepy’s is the largest privately-owned and operated specialty mattress retailer in America. The expertise of their well-trained sales team will assure you find your ultimate sleep aid in a friendly, no-hassle environment.
You Need Your ZZZs
Sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Like eating right and exercising, sleeping is essential to feeling your best during the day. It affects your relationships, your productivity and your quality of life. While you sleep, your brain rejuvenates and the body is reenergized. You’ll be shocked and surprised by how your quality of life improves when you learn how to sleep better.