When it comes to our health, exercise and nutrition are most people's top priority. But, without the proper amount of quality sleep, the circle of health is incomplete. The month of March celebrates sleep with National Sleep Awareness Week, March 1-7 and World Sleep Day, March 13. Let's explore why sleep is so important and how you can make sure that you get the right amount.
Studies show that getting quality sleep on a regular basis can have a positive effect on not only your mood but also your blood pressure, blood sugar and body weight.
Proper sleep also improves mental focus, athletic performance and your ability to fight off disease. According to Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, The Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women's Health at Harvard Medical School, an important brain cleaning function occurs when your brain is at rest. When you're asleep, a waste clearance system in the body known as the glymphatic system runs what is essentially a rinse cycle in the brain, using cerebrospinal fluid. During this time, it washes away a harmful protein known as beta-amyloid. Research has found that in people who go on to develop Alzheimer's, deposits of beta-amyloid start to appear in the brain at least 10 years before symptoms begin.
It is also during sleep that the spine decompresses from the forces of standing, sitting, walking and running during the day time. Negative effects from lack of sleep range from moodiness, depression, poor decision choices, increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Lack of sleep also contributes to about 25% of all automobile accidents.
So how can you be sure that you are getting the right amount of sleep?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, your goal should be to get seven or more hours of sleep each night to optimize your well-being. However, too much of a good thing can cause negative effects. Sleeping more than nine hours each night may for some people actually cause similar negative effects to not getting enough sleep. If seven to eight hours of sleep each night isn’t in the cards, adding even 30 minutes of additional sleep can provide benefits.
Here are some tips for making sure that you are getting quality sleep
- Be regular. Schedule your bedtime and wake-up time and try and stay consistent with those times every day of the week, including weekends.
- Control your environment. Make sure that your sleep area is dark and as quiet as possible. Cooler temperatures and comfortable bedding also improve sleep.
- Shut down the electronics early. It’s important to shut off your phone or tablet at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep. You can also use your devices' sleep settings to automatically control this.
- Meditate. Meditation can allow your heart rate to slow down and your mind to relax.
- Wake up slow. The best way to really disturb a good night's sleep is to be jarred awake. Use an alarm sound that starts slow and soft and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to be at your first destination so that you don't feel rushed first thing in the morning.
Sleep is not only beneficial but is an important element of leading an overall healthy lifestyle, along with regular exercise and proper nutrition. If you are interested in learning more about sleep and World Sleep Day click this link, https://worldsleepday.org/.