The National Sleep Foundation sponsors Sleep Awareness Week every March to educate Americans on the importance of sleep to their overall health and well-being. The CDC has linked insufficient sleep to the development of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. In honor of Sleep Awareness Week occurring this March 11-17, try adopting the following five healthy sleep habits:
Keep a regular schedule—try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends.
Create a good sleep environment, including comfortable room temperature, minimal noise and sufficient darkness.
Keep track of habits that help you fall asleep, like relaxing music or reading before bed. Repeat those activities each night.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine three to four hours before going to bed.
Limit alcohol before bed, as it can reduce sleep quality.
Many people fall short of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. With busy schedules, it may be tempting to stay up late, but sleep is an important factor in overall health. A good night’s sleep allows bodies to rest, repair cells and fight off illness.
The body undergoes certain changes during sleep. Heart rate and breathing slow, body temperature drops, and yet the brain remains incredibly active. In fact, sometimes the brain is even more active during REM sleep (a state of deep sleep usually associated with dreaming) than it is during the normal waking state.
Insufficient sleep can cause many negative side effects, including drowsiness, loss of productivity and impaired judgment. In addition, losing sleep can affect mood and increase the risk of accidents and injury. Long-term side effects of not getting enough sleep include weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Your lifestyle, your schedule and stress can affect how much sleep you get each night. However, if you are having trouble sleeping, there are several steps you can take:
Stick to a schedule to help regulate your body’s internal clock.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading.
Keep the TV out of your room as bright light can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.
Have comfortable bedding and pillows.
Keep your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
Getting enough sleep will boost your immune system and help you stay alert and productive throughout the day. With cold and flu season just around the corner, it’s now more important than ever to make sleep a priority.