The Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is probably the most common health recommendation and the most commonly ignored.  Who has time to sleep for eight hours?

This is kind of a wishful thinking post for me, since I have a six-month old who still isn’t sleeping through the night (*sigh*), but in case you just need some encouragement to turn off the tv, jump in some comfy jammies and snuggle in for a warm winter’s nap, here are some facts about sleep.

Not to be a downer, but according to HealthyPeople.gov, lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  It is also a factor in car accidents, with drowsy drivers responsible for at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year in the U.S.

The benefits of sleep are great.  Some, as described by WebMD, are:

1. Better health

2. Better sex (woohoo!)

3. Less pain

4. Lower risk of injury

5. Better mood

6. Better weight control

7. Clearer thinking

8. Better memory

9. Stronger immunity

Sounds good, right?  So how to get those elusive eight hours?

The Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions for getting more and better sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink  (Not too much, not too little.  Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol.)

3. Create a bedtime ritual to prep your brain for what’s coming (turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, take a hot shower, read a book…)

4. Get comfortable.  (Not too hot, not too cold, not too many visitors in bed (I’m looking at you, kids and dog…))

5. Limit daytime naps

6. Include physical activity in your daily routine

7. Manage stress

Interested in sleep? Or are you like me and just want to daydream about getting it?  Here’s a great article about it from National Geographic for extra credit.  Or check out the magazine and just read it until you fall asleep.