Why Sleep Is Your Friend!

Why Sleep is Your Friend!
by Robert Wright, Jr., Ph.D., COFT

Are you one of the many Americans who regularly ignore the age old adage that you should get at least 7-8 hours sleep per night to perform at your best? Do you fall into the category of regularly getting less than 3-4 hours sleep per night due to a hectic schedule? Do you believe that not following a regular sleep pattern is part of the price you must pay to be successful? Or, do you find yourself regularly tossing and turning in bed as you attempt to get to sleep but insomnia seems to win the day? If any of these scenarios apply to you, know that you are not alone!

Did you know that according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control, lack of sleep and sleep deprivation are now at crisis levels in the United States? Did you know that a recent study from Uppsala University, Sweden published in the Journal Sleep showed that when you miss just one night’s sleep, if your blood is drawn, results will show a loss of brain tissue and circulation of brain molecules usually found in your blood under conditions of brain damage?

Let’s face it, in today’s world, many of us have busy schedules and may have relegated sleep to the category of “I know I need to get more sleep but it will just have to wait until…” Although on the surface this may seem like a “reasonable” rationale for not getting enough regular sleep, when we look at the facts, another more detrimental picture appears.

For instance, did you know that according to recent federal statistics, more than 1500 people are killed in car crashes each year due to sleepy or drowsy drivers? And that driver fatigue due to lack of sleep causes over 100,000 preventable car crashes every year? Does it make sense to you that someone you love should lose their life or cause loss of life to others simply because they were not getting enough sleep?

If you’re like most people, you’d say “Of course I don’t want to fall asleep while driving and I certainly don’t want a loved one to fall asleep while driving!” So, if we know it’s important to get more sleep, why do we often keep putting it off until a potential day of reckoning? A partial answer is that although we may know getting more sleep is important, we may be doing like everyone else around us: working extra hours to make ends meet; watching TV or playing video games until the wee hours; sleeping with and being awakened by our phones.

Since getting a good night’s sleep is critical for healthy well being, here are some tips for getting your sleep groove on:

Sleep Log: The first step is to know how much sleep you’re currently getting. Keep an honest sleep log so you can accurately assess your sleep needs.

Start Small: Consider shutting down the computer at least an hour before bedtime. Studies show that the blue light from the computer delays the onset of sleep especially for men. Consider placing your phone outside of the bedroom to avoid disrupting your sleep cycle during the night.

Create a Sleep Spa: Tailor your bedroom to increase your sleep comfort. Consider putting up black-out curtains to get rid of light that can keep you awake. Get a better pillow and mattress so that your spine naturally aligns comfortably with your bed. If your partner snores loudly, consider wearing ear plugs or sleeping in another room.

Perfect Temperature: Recent studies show that most people find it easier to fall asleep in a cool room rather than a warm one. The “sweet spot” sleep temperatures ranged between 65-70 degrees.

Committing to making getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life will improve the quality of your life—it’s a smart move you’ll be glad you made!

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