Friday, June 24, 2011

A Healthy Lifestyle Includes SLEEP

Many of us multi-task on a daily basis. In order to accomplish everything on our "To Do List" we often sacrifice sleep. Completing everything we set out to do does take stress away. After all, we do not continuously worry about what we must do. Is sacrificing sleep worth it? Can you make up for lost sleep?

To answer my questions I started sleuthing online. I have heard that one cannot "stockpile" sleep to make up for nights where it is sacrificed.

According to the article, "11 Surprising Health Benefits", I learned that sleep helps improve memory and creativity. When one sleeps, new information is retained and conceptualized better.

The article explained that people who get more sleep (approximately 6 hours a night or more) are healthier. They have less inflammation and tend to weigh less. Adequate sleep controls the inflammation that can lead to heart problems as well as controls the hormone that causes hunger.

It has been part of many advertisements over the years that driving while exhausted is dangerous. Falling asleep or having a short reaction time at the wheel due to exhaustion IS an impairment and should be avoided.

So if sleep is so good for us, what can we do to get more? Many people must sleep less as their jobs require them to keep up long hours. After all, bills must be paid and a paycheck needs to come in to pay those bills. People may not be able to sleep due to personal or family responsibilities or stress. A few things to consider when trying to find more time in your life to schedule more sleep:
1. Are you over scheduled? Does something need to go? Do you need to start to say "No"?
One way to get more sleep is to pick and choose the activities that mean the most to you and are the most essential and cut back just a bit. You CAN do it all, perhaps not all at once!
2. Do you exercise? You can get into an exercise routine. Regular exercise helps many people sleep better. The exercise helps one reduce stress and often leads to healthier cravings.
3. What do you eat? Avoiding caffeine later in the day, eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help you sleep better as your body will be working more efficiently.
4. When do you eat? The time of day makes a difference. Late night dining causes the body to work digesting food. The body stays awake as it works to digest. Especially if the food is spicy, heavy or something that does not fully agree with you.
5. What do you do to reduce stress? You may read a book, exercise, take a yoga class or meditate. You may not have anything in your day that helps you reduce stress. Look to start something that helps you clear your mind.

Summer started this week...start a new routine with a new season. Try to integrate more sleep into your day. Help your memory, immune system, metabolism and waistline! Think beyond yourself too...sleep improves safety in the home and out on the road!