The Importance of Sleep for Good Health
Posted by Kris Drake, RN, CHPD, on May 07, 2015
"Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together" – Thomas Dekker
As children, many of us longed for the time when we could stay up as late as we liked and no longer had a set bedtime. As adults, there never seems to be enough hours in the day and oftentimes we wish someone would send us to bed. Lack of sleep can result in both short- and long-term health risks.
Short-term health risks may include reduced immunity, decreased coordination and motor skills, inability to concentrate and decreased ability for decision making. Lack of sleep over time may contribute to the development of high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
You may be wondering exactly how much sleep do we need to maintain or improve our health. Experts recommend about eight hours of sleep every night. To determine how much sleep you need, the National Sleep Foundation suggests you ask yourself the following questions:
- How many hours of sleep do you require to feel happy and productive?
- Do you have health issues such as being overweight or are you at risk for disease?
- Are you experiencing sleep problems?
- Do you need caffeine to make it through the day?
- Do you feel sleepy when driving?
If you are experience sleepiness during the day, snoring, leg cramps or tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, or another symptom that is preventing you from sleeping well, consult your primary care physician to determine the underlying cause.
To help ensure better sleep try these tips:
- Stick with the same sleep schedule during the week and on weekends
- Avoid exercising less than 3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol 4 hours before bedtime
- Sleep on a comfortable pillow and mattress
- Turn off electronics before going to bed
- When you sleep, your brain and body are performing important functions necessary to maintain your health. So, put yourself to bed on time and make getting enough sleep part of your healthy lifestyle.