Sleep Hygiene

Updated: Nov 19, 2021


What sleep has to do with your health?


Studies indicate that a person who sleeps less than 7 hours a night regardless of the cause for not sleeping it takes an impact on your health. If you chronically are not sleeping well your health will be affected. Health problems that are associated with sleep deficiency include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, physical safety, and stroke.


When you sleep your body restores the chemical balance and heals itself. Without adequate sleep, your brain and your body systems can’t function the way that they should. Prolonged poor sleep for years has been linked to a shorter lifespan, and now is also related to poor quality of life. Studies indicate that 19% of adults in the US do not get enough sleep regularly.


Sleep and Your Brain

• Without proper sleep your central nervous system signals are disrupted and can leave your brain exhausted. This can lead to difficulty concentrating and learning new things, decreasing coordination, and increasing the risk for accidents.


• Your mental abilities and your emotions will also be affected and can cause mood swings, compromise your decision-making processes and creativity.


Sleep and Your Immune System

•Without adequate regular sleep your immune system is not able to build itself up to protect you from viruses and bacteria leading to more illness.


•Chronic or long-term sleep deprivation increases your risk for diabetes mellitus & heart disease.


Sleep and Your Respiratory System

•Obstructive sleep apnea is the main culprit in the respiratory system that can lead to sleep deprivation which leaves you more vulnerable to infections.


•Poor sleep can make chronic respiratory diseases much worse.


Sleep and Your Digestive System

•Sleep affects 2 hormones in your body called leptin and ghrelin which control feelings of hunger and fullness.


•This can lead to obesity and insulin resistance.


Sleep and Your Cardiovascular System

•Sleep affects processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.


•Sleep plays a vital role in your body's ability to heal and repair your blood vessels and your heart.


•CVD, coronary artery calcification and an increased risk of a heart attack have been identified and are linked to chronic sleep deprivation.


Sleep and Your Endocrine System

•You need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep for your body to produce testosterone.


•Growth hormone production is also interrupted with inadequate sleep.


• These hormones help the body build muscle mass and repair cells in the tissue and other growth functions.


Summary

Poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation can lead to many chronic illnesses:

•Coronary vascular disease, coronary artery calcification, increased risk for heart attack.

•Diabetes & Insulin Resistance

•Obesity

•Memory disturbances, poor concentration & brain fog, Alzheimer's, Dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases

•Increased Risk for worsening chronic respiratory disorders and a weakened immune system

•Decreased muscle mass, decreased growth function


 

Now that we understand what happens to the body due to lack of sleep, let's talk about how we can fix it!



What is sleep hygiene?

• Sleep Hygiene is a term used for practices & behaviors that influence sleep quality and duration of sleep.


Key Components of Good Sleep Hygiene

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule – even on weekends. Having a consistent nighttime routine helps many people get to bed on time. Budget 30 minutes for winding down taking advantage of whatever puts you in a state of relaxation (soft music, dimmed lights, light stretching, brushing your teeth). Unplug from electronics 30-60 minutes before sleep (electronics can generate blue light that not only stimulates your brain but can also decrease melatonin production the hormone in your body that facilitates sleep. You should also consistently get up at the same time every morning, including weekends to achieve a rhythm of consistent sleep.


·Prioritizing your sleep-make sleep important and a priority over other activities you juggle in life. Calculate a targeted bedtime based on your scheduled wake-up time.


·Responsible napping -napping in the day can greatly interfere with the quality of sleep you get at night. If you need to nap you should do so in the morning or early afternoon and you should only sleep 10-20 minutes. Sleeping longer than 20 minutes will increase grogginess and decrease your focus.

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·Relaxing bedroom environment- your bedroom should be your sleep sanctuary. Maintain a sleep-friendly bedroom with black-out curtains, white noise, or earplugs, and adjusting your thermostat to 60-67 degrees in your bedroom.


·Healthy habits- moderate exercise and a healthy diet will improve your sleep quality and can help you sleep longer at night.


· Avoid smoking and refrain from drinking alcohol or caffeine in the hours leading up to bed.


· You should stop eating about 3 hours before you sleep and should avoid heavy meals late in the evening.


· If after 20 minutes you haven’t fallen asleep get up and stretch, read, or do something else calming in low light.

· Get enough sunlight in the daytime. Sunlight is one of the key drivers of your circadian rhythms that can encourage quality sleep.


· Regular exercise




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