Sunday, January 19th, 2020
We hear a lot about a healthy diet and an active lifestyle when it comes to wellness. There’s a third element to a healthy lifestyle that is often ignored or deemphasized: healthy sleep. It may be challenging or near impossible to get our recommended eight hours of sleep. Our efforts to lose weight, maintain top performance at our jobs and our interactions with other people all rely on our sufficient rest.
It can be tempting to stay up late and sleep in on weekends, but we really set ourselves up for a difficult work week. Our bodies have an inner “clock”. Our brain knows when it’s day time or night time based on our sleep schedule and cycles. When we mess with the time frame by dramatically changing our sleep habits a few days a week, we can spend the rest of the week making up for it.
When we are tired, it’s easy to turn to coffee or soda as a quick pick me up. A cup or two of coffee in the morning can be beneficial. But studies have shown that those who drank four or more caffeinated beverages in a day were more prone to insomnia. On those especially difficult days, it’s best to go for a quick walk outside or rest your eyes for a moment to refresh yourself. Powering through until an early bedtime is your best bet for making up that sleep deficit.
As infants and children, we typically had some type of nighttime routine. It may have consisted of a bath, a bedtime story, and a lullaby. The things signaled our bodies and brains for sleep. Why not establish a regular routine in your adult life to achieve the same end?
Incorporate a relaxing yoga routine into your evening activities. Turn off the TV and put away your phone for some quiet reading before bed. Even as little as fifteen to twenty minutes of reading can help your mind settle down from the constant stimulation of the day.
Regular exercise in your week can help promote the hormone melatonin, known as the “sleep hormone.” Just make sure your exercise isn’t too close to bedtime or it may have a counterproductive effect. Exercise can not only help regulate your sleep patterns but also boost your general mood and wellness.
It can be difficult to shut our brains off after a full day’s events. There’s a neverending source of problems to solve, things to worry about and events to replay. Write down whatever threatens to run around and around in your mind, preventing sleep. If you’re still unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, get up and go to the other room to read or write until you feel drowsy.
Once a pattern of insomnia or sleep deprivation has developed, our minds can create a self-fulfilling problem. Worrying about not being able to sleep has proven to be even more harmful than the lack of sleep itself. If you’ve continued to struggle with your sleep habits, despite your best efforts, do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare professional. They can help you come up with a plan that will fit you best. The long term negative effects of sleep deprivation are far too serious to go unattended.
March 1 – 7 is National Sleep Awareness Week! Visit our Wellness Calendar for a free download of the upcoming Wellness Observances. If you’re interested in hosting a health fair at your workplace, check out our FREE planning tools. If you’re a healthcare provider, register a booth at a health fair near you!