Sleep – it does a body good!

19 Jan

In the November/December issue of IDEA Fitness Journal, there was a 5-page article that went into depth about sleep and what it does for a body.  I think many people are working on their food choices and activity choices when it concerns their well-being, but I know a lot of people do not factor in the importance of getting enough rest and quality sleep.  I know we have long to-do lists, and it seems like there’s never enough time to do all that we need to do. However, I’m hoping that after reading this, you will see how important and vital it is to your total body health to put sleep at the top of your list.  

Most adults need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, but most people only get about 6.5 hours per sleep.  Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, memory loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, overall fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and has been found to influence how well one can pay attention and focus.  One big important thing that sleep does is it allows the body to release the human growth hormone (HGH) which can improve fitness and sports performance. When HGH is being released into our bodies, the body does its repair and regeneration work.  It helps build and repair muscle mass, tissue and cells.  So, see, a lot is going on while you are sleeping; and you are actually helping your body out by choosing to set a bedtime for yourself every night.  I know I hear a lot of people say, “well, I can sleep when I’m dead.” Well, guess what?  By choosing not to get adequate rest, you could speed up your time to get that eternal rest.  I think I would rather get my vital sleep and live a while longer.

IDEA suggested to share the following list with clients, so I’m choosing to share it here:

~ Limit caffeine, particularly in the afternoon and evening.

~ Limit alcohol.  Especially avoid excessive consumption before bed.

~ Try to quit tobacco use; nicotine is a stimulant.

~ Don’t use a computer, cell phone, or handheld device in the 90 minutes before bedtime. LED lighting “tells” the brain to stay awake.

~ Limit television viewing before bed.

~ Lower the temperature in the house or bedroom before and during sleep.  The body likes cooler temperatures.  Many sleep doctors suggest lowering body temperature 90 minutes before bedtime.

~ Take a hot bath 90-120 minutes before bed.

~ Use the bed for only sleeping, lovemaking, and perhaps reading before bed.

~ Nap only 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon, if necessary.

~ Keep a sleep diary to track patterns.

~ Eat 3-4 hours before bed and avoid heavy meals. Some evidence suggests that a light carbohydrate snack before bed helps sleep.

~ If possible, protect sleep from intrusions (unexpected noises); consider wearing earplugs.

~ If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until your body and mind feel tired.

~ Meditate, listen to soothing music, or create other nighttime rituals that signal it’s time to sleep.

~Use blackout curtains to block light.

~ Buy and use a reliable, effective alarm clock.

~Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow.

(Source: Rosekind, 2008)

Try these suggestions and begin to put sleep at the top of your priorities.  If problems still persist, you may want to talk to your doctor about possible sleep disorders and get the correct tests/studies to see if you do have one.  Sleep isn’t just for babies and children; it’s for all of us. The hours we spend resting and sleeping will benefit the hours we are awake.  You will see results by choosing to get the right amount of sleep. Try it!  You’ll like it cuz sleep – it does a body good!

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