They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.
August's Healthy Habit: Get Good Sleep!
Getting good sleep is no joke. Sure, there are some of those people who can efficiently run off of no sleep but for the rest of us, we can physically, mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions of not getting a sufficient sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35% of Americans don't get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night- on average Americans currently get 6.8 hours. This lack of sleep costs the US $411 billion annually.
Why is sleep so important?
In order for our bodies to function properly during the hours that we're awake we need to sleep. Sleep, like nutrition or physical activity, is critical to our health.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute lists 3 major benefits to good sleep:
- Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being: Sleep helps your brain work properly, as it is preparing you for the next day. Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions and be creative.
- Physical Health: Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry, effects how your body reacts to insulin and supports healthy growth and development.
- Daytime Performance and Safety: Quality sleep helps you to function well throughout the day. Those who don't get enough sleep are less productive at their job or in the classroom. They take longer to finish tasks, have slower reaction time and make more mistakes.
So what happens when we don't get enough sleep?
Healthline lists many reasons, among them:
- Memory Issues: During sleep, your brain forms connections that help you process an remember new information. Lack of sleep can negatively impact both short term and long term memory.
- Mood Changes: Sleep deprivation can make you moody, emotional and quick tempered.
- Weakened Immunity: Too little sleep weakens your immune system's defenses against viruses like those that cause common cold and flu.
- High Blood Pressure: If you sleep less than five hours a night, your risk for high blood pressure increases.
- Risk for Diabetes: Lack of sleep effects your body's release of insulin, a blood sugar-lowering hormone. People who don't get sleep have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Weight Gain: With sleep deprivation, the chemicals that signal to your brain that you are full are off balance. As a result, you're more likely to overindulge even when you've had enough to eat.
- Risk of Heart Disease: Sleep deprivation may lead to increased blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation, both of which play roles in heart disease.
- Poor Balance: Lack of sleep can affect your balance and coordination, making your more prone to falls and other physical accidents.
How can you get proper sleep?
- Get on a schedule and stick to it. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning- even on days off or vacations.
- Don't nap after 3pm. When you nap late in the afternoon, your body is unable to fall back asleep when you usual bedtime is.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine will keep both your mind and your body awake, making it hard to fall asleep.
- Don't eat a heavy meal less than 3 hours before bedtime.
- Follow a routine to hep you relax before bed- TV and phones are not relaxing, they are in fact stimulating, which will not help you fall asleep.
- Don't lie in bed awake. If you cannot sleep after 20 minutes, repeat your relaxing routine until you feel sleepy.