Over the years, public health messages have laid more emphasis on the importance of diet and physical activities. Now, the sleep-deprived public is learning (the hard way) that sleep is a critical third pillar of a healthy lifestyle. Increasingly, scientists have come with findings proving that your sleeping pattern throughout adulthood, is a contributory factor in how healthy you stay into your golden years. Also, adequate hours of high quality, uninterrupted sleep is just as, if not, more important to your health and fitness than all of the hours put into workouts and nutrition.
Startlingly, two thirds of adults fail to get the recommended eight hours of sleep. These poor sleep habits are trickling down to the next generation: 45% of teens don’t sleep the recommended nine hours on school nights, leading 25% of them reportedly falls asleep in class at least once a week, according to a National Sleep Foundation survey. Nearly 40% of adults have nodded off unintentionally during the day in the past month, and 5% have done so while driving. Funny as it sounds, we stubbornly refuse to sleep during the day even when we feel drowsy because we motivated by our favorite #hustlelife Instagram Influencer. Most persons are of the opinion that sleep is for the lazy or weak, and we are proud to say we slept for shorter hours, trying to show how busy we could get. Despite what your influencer has to say, sleep is nature’s greatest enhancer of physical and cognitive health and performance.
Even more startling is that a lack of sleep is the root cause of diseases crippling our health care system. It weakens the immune system, doubles the risk of cancer, increases one’s risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life” Dr. Matthew Walker.
Sometimes, getting that much sleep can be hard, due to busyness or problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. If you aren’t getting good quality 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, here are the tips we share with that could help.
• During the day, limit optional sitting. (Take it one step further by trying to get 10,000 steps per day) or get in some exercise–30-60mins of a challenging activity you enjoy. Eat a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
• Decrease or eliminate caffeine and alcohol in all forms.
• Create better sleep habits:
Have a consistent sleep schedule
Go to bed early enough to get 7-9 hours of sleep
Take a bath before sleeping to lower your body temperature
Turn off electronics at least an hour prior to bed, use apps like F.lux if you need to do some work close to bedtime
Getting a good night’s sleep may not sound revolutionary, but given the risks of being chronically sleep deprived, carving out time for sleep may be the single most important thing you can do for your health today.
“I think I could have been a more effective president if I had slept more while in office.” President Barack Obama
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