Bring Sleep Back

How well do you sleep? If you’re like the one in five Americans who experiences regular sleep disturbances, chances are you may not be sleeping well at all.

Researchers have observed that individuals who are sleep deprived are at greater risk for:

  •   Weight gain
  •   Diabetes
  •   High blood pressure
  •   Eating excess calories later in the evening
  •   Impaired cognitive function and memory storage
  •   Reduced reaction time and focus
  •   Deregulation of emotions
  •   Suicidal thoughts and attempts

Additionally, your brain gets rid of toxins while your body is rebuilt and repaired during sleep.

If you do suffer from ongoing sleep deprivation, fret not. Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, DBSM, CBSM from the University of Arizona, explains that developing better sleep habits, or “sleep hygiene,” is a trainable skill.

Here are Dr. Grandner’s 10 Sleep Commandments to Take the Bed Back:

  1. Follow a regular sleep schedule providing at least 7 hours sleep.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Get light during the day and avoid it at night— this goes for bright lights and lights from TV, computer and phone screens, too!
  4. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable.
  5. Feed your belly so hunger doesn’t keep you awake— but not too much.
  6. Be mindful of the amount of liquids you drink in the evening.
  7. Save caffeine, nicotine and alcohol consumption for earlier in the day.
  8. Be angry, worried and upset— but process these emotions (or temporarily release these emotions) before it’s time to go to bed.
  9. Get rid of your bedroom clock. Or, at least dim the light so you won’t see the numbers in the middle of the night. Also, if you wake up early, don’t check the time before your alarm goes off.
  10. Keep naps to short bouts (approximately 15 minutes) and earlier in the day. If you’re napping for sleep replacement, allot yourself 2 to 2 ½ hours to get into a full cycle of deep and light sleep.

 

Here are two top tips from the Living Well Eating Smart Wellness Team of registered dietitians for creating an environment conducive for sleep:

  1. Make your bedroom a comfy, sacred space for sleep. This way every time you lie on your bed, your brain and body are primed for sleep. 

  1. Bring your energy down prior to bedtime by finding ways to relax. Consider taking a warm bath or shower, diming the lights, reading a book (not on a screen), journaling, listening to soft music and doing restorative yoga, breath work, meditation or whatever else helps calm your soul.