With the large amounts of caffeine available in coffee, sodas and energy drinks we can boost our energy levels short term but we can pay the price in the quality of our sleep.
“Health is the first muse, and sleep is the condition to produce it.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
To succeed in improving your health you must have the energy to do so but we need to focus on the basic fundamental of getting more sleep. A lack of sleep gives us less than desirable results in our encouragement, eating and exercise activities. Studies show the average person needs 8.16 hours of quality sleep every night. This may seem mythological to some as 5-7 hours is all most Americans can get these days and they don’t get a high quality deep sleep which further limits their energy levels.
Successful people learn to master time management skills. They understand there are times to do things and times to rest and recuperate. Without proper balance between the two a person will not be at their optimal performance and will fall prey to poor choices in their journey to Optimal Health.
We must understand the value of sleep and how it helps us to achieve our goals vs. seeing it as being lazy. If we prioritize sleep as a healthy habit we can be at our best each and every day.
What time do you go to bed? Is it early enough and is your sleep environment optimal?
In the nationwide bestselling book Dr. A’s Habits of Health, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen describes the consequences of poor sleep habits.
Lack of sleep affects our body in a number of negative ways that go far beyond such common disturbances as mental blurriness, decreased productivity, and impaired relationships. In fact, a growing body of evidence links poor sleep habits to increased inflammation, a higher risk of cardiovascular incidence— and even obesity. Let’s look at a few of these sleep-related problems.
Sleep and Weight Gain
Getting too little sleep disturbs appetite regulation, giving sleep deficiency the potential to be a major factor in obesity. Researchers at England’s Warwick School of Medicine who studied 28,000 adults and
15,000 children found that getting less sleep almost doubled the risk of obesity, even in children as young as five. Why? When you’re sleep-deprived, your body secretes excess ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, and less leptin, a substance that tells you to stop eating. In addition, lack of sleep prevents your body from replacing dopamine and serotonin, two brain chemicals that bring comfort and satisfaction. As a result, you begin to crave sugar and energy-dense, nutritionally polluted foods—not exactly supportive of healthy eating!
Sleep and Immunity
Your immune system needs sleep in order to repair, recharge, and do the maintenance necessary to keep out intruders. That means that skimping on sleep can make you more susceptible to disease. In fact, getting fewer than six hours can raise your risk of viral infection by 50 percent.
Sleep, Inflammation, and Your Heart
Researchers are discovering that lack of sleep can raise your blood levels of inflammatory activators including CRP (C-reactive protein), a substance that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and a marker we will watch very closely to assess your health status. In addition to heart disease, this constant inflammation can lead to cancer, premature aging, and other negative consequences. Evidence is also building that connects sleep deprivation to a nightly rise in blood pressure that lasts through the day and raises risk for heart attack and stroke.
Other Sleep-Related Health Issues
Too little sleep—defined as less than seven hours a night—may cause anxiety symptoms, moodiness, depression, and overuse of alcohol, says a 2006 Institute of Medicine report, and the ill effects build as sleep loss accumulates. How big a problem are we talking about? Between 50 and 70 million people in the U.S. alone may be affected.
How do I get better rest and sleep?
Set a Bedtime
Whichever type you are, there’s a good chance you have to get up for work in the morning, so in order to set your bedtime you should first decide what time you need to get up. Count back from that time seven hours (for a woman) or eight hours (for a man). That’s when you should be asleep. Your bedtime—the point at which all lights (and other electronic devices) are off—marks the beginning of the sleep latency period, or falling-asleep time.
It doesn’t really matter if your bedtime is 9:00 p.m. or 1:00 a.m. What’s important is establishing a uniform pattern that sets a rhythm and puts your pineal gland back in charge.
Remember that the optimum sleep length—seven hours for women, eight for men—is just a guideline. You need to find out what’s optimal for you. A good time to do this is on vacation, when you’ve left behind the hustle and bustle of your everyday routine (yes, that includes the kids) and can say goodbye to the alarm clock for a while.
You should reach a point when you’re going to bed at the same time each night and waking up the same time each day feeling rested. That’s the optimal sleep length for you. Even cutting back by one hour can decrease your alertness by 35 percent and move you to a non-sick state.
You’ll know you’ve hit it right when you wake up just before the alarm clock was set to go off!
Set Your Routine
Today’s chaotic schedules mean that, for the most part, we sleep only when our inability to function forces us to. But with a little planning, you can change the behaviors that are sabotaging your sleep. In fact, from the moment you wake up, you can start preparing to sleep better that very night.
During the day:
Get out of bed - Once you wake up, get up. Limit your in-bed activities to sleeping and lovemaking to avoid sending the wrong signals to your brain.
Limit caffeine - You don’t have to give up coffee or caffeinated tea—just savor them in the morning. Once noon rolls around, limit or avoid anything caffeinated, and make sure you have absolutely no caffeine within three hours of sleep time.
Eat responsibly - Avoid eating within three hours of sleeping. If you really need something before bed, try a small glass of skim milk or chamomile tea. For optimal sleep, eliminate high-glycemic foods throughout the day, and avoid large, energy-dense, or fatty meals in the evening.
Say no to naps - Children need more sleep than they can get in a night, but for adults, napping is a recipe for sleep disruption, especially if you doze off for longer than an hour. If you’re so tired that you need to nap, avoid high glycemic and fatty foods at lunch and schedule your sleep time a little earlier.
(That being said, a short, five-minute power nap won’t hurt—as long as your boss doesn’t catch you!)
In the evening:
The evening is your time, and it’s important to plan for it wisely. As you head home from work, make a mental note of any tasks or activities that need to be done. For instance, plan to complete your exercises and any other activities that make you break into a sweat at least two hours before bed, and even earlier if it seems to interrupt your latency. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for what I like to call sleepy time—the half hour before lights out.
Decrease stimulation - Since the pineal gland is light sensitive, it’s a good idea to lower your home’s ambient light several hours before bed. Turning on a bright light to look for something you need the next day can startle your “third eye.” Thirty minutes before you plan to hit the pillow, shut off the TV (including the news), stop e-mailing and surfing the Internet, and turn off any loud music. Disturbing images and work e-mails can lead to repetitive thoughts when you’re trying to drift off to sleep.
Eliminate cell phone use - Recent research indicates that radiation from your phone may actually stimulate your brain and interrupt sleep. A study at
Wayne State University concluded that people who used their cell phones in the evening took longer to fall asleep and experienced more headaches. If you must talk on your cell phone in the evening, use a headset and turn it off at least two hours before you plan to fall asleep.
Minimize liquid intake - Getting up to go to the bathroom is a common sleep disruption. If you find this happening to you, avoid drinking anything two hours before bed and make sure to empty your bladder just before turning in.
Avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime - Any other time of day, exercise is a good thing, helping increase the body’s natural chemicals that induce sleep. But it’s too stimulating right before sleep. And make sure you’re not sacrificing sleep time for exercise by getting up too early. Giving up some
TV time instead leaves you with room in your schedule for exercise and no negative consequences!
eHealth Challenge Tip: Skip Seconds
Double helpings mean doubling up on calories. Once you’ve finished one right sized serving of healthy food, move away from the main table and join a lively conversation, or otherwise enjoy the company of those around you.