March is here and the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week wants to help you get your z’s back on track. Held March 11/17, the week-long campaign promotes understanding of the impact sleep has on health and well-being. According to the CDC, adults typically need seven hours of sleep per night, but only about 35 percent of Americans report getting that much. Most get slightly fewer than that. According to a Gallup poll, Americans are generally sleeping for only 6.8 hours per night, or about an hour less than they used to 70 years ago. Moreover, people with some of the most prevalent chronic health conditions such as arthritis, depression, and diabetes, typically report getting less than the recommended amount.
Here at Shakthi, we take an integrated approach to treating patients, and we find that looking at the quality and amount of sleep can play an important factor to getting and staying healthy. Here are a few reasons why you should be getting more sleep and a few tips to help you out as well.
Poor sleep can lead to weight gain
A cross-study analysis by the NIH from 2008 found a strong correlation between short sleep duration and obesity. There are a number of lifestyle reasons behind this, including inactivity, smoking, working long hours, over consumption of alcohol, and so on. These other health factors aside, when you don’t sleep enough, the chemicals in your brain can change, leading to increased appetite and fat storage. In fact, studies have shown that people who sleep better tend to eat fewer calories. Moreover, sleep deprivation can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity, which in turn can lead to symptoms of pre-diabetes.
Good sleep makes you smarter
Studies show that depriving the body of sleep can have an impact on our ability to think and solve problems. It slows down our alertness and inhibits our ability to concentrate. Lack of sleep also impedes memory, making it harder for us to learn. And what’s more, lack of sleep can make you grumpy! If you have kids, you’ve probably seen this, but it can also affect adults.
Sleeping can boost athletic performance
Athletic performance is another area of wellness we focus on here at Shakthi. We help athletes of all ages reach their full athletic potential through numerous modalities but particularly through restorative sleep. Getting a good night of sleep promotes muscle regeneration and growth, but also has been found to be correlated with increased stamina and strength.
Tips for sleeping longer and better
With all so many health issues tied to sleep, it’s essential to know how to improve the length and quality of your sleep. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Go to bed earlier:
Sometimes we just don’t feel tired. It?s understandable, but the easiest way to ensure you get more sleep is to give yourself more time.
- Stick to a sleep schedule:
Not only will going to bed earlier help you sleep better, but going to bed at the same time every day will also train your body to get sleepy. This will make it easier for you to get the shut eye you need on a regular basis.
- Avoid electronics after dark:
Tablets and smartphones have become such an essential part of our lives. But they emit a type of light that disrupts the body’s natural sleep cycle. To fall asleep faster, it’s best to avoid using them after dark, or at least one hour before you go to bed. But don’t watch TV either! It’s best to relax by reading, maybe listening to some soothing music, or even meditating.
- Avoid alcohol and stimulants in the evening:
It’s nice to have a glass or two of wine with dinner, but having too much alcohol can restrict blood flow and disrupt sleep patterns. Similarly, avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine in the evening, as they can inhibit your body from naturally feeling tired.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time sleeping, it might be time to get see a professional. We’re here to help. Schedule an appointment with one of our integrative specialists today for an evaluation.