The Dozing Pillar of Health
The benefits of sleep are a dozen fold. Every study that hits the press states the same thing. Getting adequate sleep, which is 7-9 hours for an adult, is paramount to any fitness program, and one could argue a critical component of every person’s life. The benefits can be seen across the board.
Muscle Repair/creation of HGH
Cognitive Rest and Repair
Weight loss: or gain if you are deprived
Increased alertness: Many auto accidents are from people that are sleep deprived
Boost in Memory
Lowers Cholesterol/lowers risk of diabetes
The information is everywhere yet people in our society are constantly ignoring it. Just this past January the CDC labeled sleep deprivation as an epidemic. According to the article, as many as 50-70 million Americans have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, and I would bet that the actual number is much higher. People are not taking their sleep seriously, and it is one of the easiest ways to stay fit in body and mind. I know that this has been a major struggle for me. There is just never enough time in the day and sleep usually takes the hit. Here’s a link to the article. http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
Can’t Make it Up
Sleep is not a component of overall health that can be ignored or made up for on the weekend. In fact, according to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania, one cannot catch back up on sleep later. Neurons that are damaged or lost from being sleep deprived are gone; they cannot heal over time like previously thought. Losing sleep will literally make you dumber. See link. http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2014/03/veasey/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+penn-medicine-news+(Penn+Medicine+News)
Sleep Enhancement Tactics
Here are some sleep enhancement tactics to help ensure that you are getting to sleep fast and hopefully staying asleep. Many of these tactics have greatly enhanced my falling asleep and staying asleep. (I am not a doctor; these are for educational purposes only. Please consult a physician for medical advice.)
- Blackout Curtains: I would recommend these for everyone, but especially people who do shift work. I have black out curtains, and they have helped me enormously get better quality sleep. See link. http://io9.com/why-we-need-to-sleep-in-total-darkness-1497075228
- Keep your Room Cool: If I could sleep in an icebox, I would. Studies state that a cool room is better than a warm one, but keep your room a comfortable temp and it will be easier to sleep. See link. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/best-temperature-for-sleep_b_3705049.html
- Melatonin: a naturally occurring hormone in the body that tells you its time for sleep. This can be bought over the counter at your local pharmacy. See link. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tc/melatonin-overview
- No screens in the bedroom, screen time right before bed can cause sleep problems. See link. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bright-screens-could-delay-bedtime/
- GABA-natural supplement: some people will swear by it others don’t. See links. http://www.gammaaminobutyricacid.org/gaba-clinical-trials/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/337555-do-gaba-supplements-improve-sleep-panic-anxiety/
- Exercise: yes burning yourself out with good exercise will help you sleep get to sleep quicker and sleep longer. Great link. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201309/better-sleep-found-exercising-regular-basis-0
- Meditation: Clearing your mind and washing away your many racing thoughts will help you relax and sleep. Great Link. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/focus-forgiveness/201112/sleep-cycles-and-rebooting-your-brain-meditation
- Make a to-do list for the next day. Planning ahead helps me relax which in turn helps me fall asleep faster. This may stress some out more. http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/Create-Your-Daily-To-Do-List.aspx
- De-clutter/organize your room and belongings for the next day: Having my clothes already picked out, briefcase packed, and other pocket items organized helps me not stress about the next morning. http://metropolitanorganizing.com/time-management-work-life-balance/get-organized-to-sleep-soundly/
I would start with some blackout curtains in the bedroom. They cost around 80 dollars depending on brand, and I guarantee they are worth every penny in uninterrupted sleep. Next, I would do a nightly organization and make my bedroom a screen free zone. Why take supplements for something that you may be able to fix by building some better habits. Try a screen free zone and a nightly organization for one month and see if that helps you get to sleep quicker. Then I would throw in meditation time. I will have another post in the future that goes over meditation techniques, but for the time being try a four count breath in and a four-count breath out. Focus on a deep lung filling breaths. If these methods fail you over time, try some sleep aids. There are more than I mentioned above.
Sleeping is literally the easiest way to increase your overall health. If you are struggling with it, make some definite moves toward improving it everyday. It is probably the one of the most overlooked and forsaken of health principles. Sleep is the easiest way to make gains, live better and helps your cognitive function stay top notch. Get there. Get it done. Feel great. Being healthy is as easy as going to sleep.
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