Staying Healthy Can Be Exhausting
Harvard Health Publishing suggests that “maintaining good health requires work, smart lifestyle choices, and the occasional checkup and test.”
Health experts are keen to recommend that we get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, build up our core, meditate, stretch, prepare nutritious meals in advance, make our home germ free, spend time volunteering, keep a diary of our emotions…
For some, the list seems endless. Trying to squeeze “healthy” into the demands of work and family can result in – ironically – poor health!
If you’re feeling exhausted from “staying healthy”, a good night’s sleep might be just what the doctor orders. Why? Because even if you check all the boxes on your daily health “to do” list, how you spend your hours from dusk to dawn matters just as much.
Poor Health Is Associated With Poor Sleep
For every hour of variability in time to bed and time asleep, a person may have up to a 27% greater chance of experiencing a metabolic abnormality such as obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood sugar, and other metabolic disorders. They also have higher depressive symptoms, total caloric intake, and index of sleep apnea.
People who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke: they have a 95% greater risk of developing or dying of coronary heart disease.
People sleeping less than six hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Those who report insomnia, OSA, or comorbid insomnia-OSA symptoms reported higher rates of depression (33.6%, 22.2%, 27.1%, respectively), and consistently reported poorer physical health outcomes than those who did not report sleep disorders.
Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
And sadly, poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide.
If You’re Lying Awake At Night, You’re Not Alone
Thirteen percent of older adults in a study said that they rarely or never feel rested when waking up in the morning. About 12 percent reported often having trouble falling asleep, 30 percent indicated they regularly had problems with waking up during the night, and 13 percent reported problems with waking up too early and not being able to fall asleep again most of the time.
Sixteen percent of caregivers experience night time wakening (waking and not being able to return to sleep) almost every night and 10 percent report that the care recipient interrupts their sleep most nights.
Individuals who get enough sleep experience a good number of health benefits. They get sick less often, maintain a healthy weight, lower their risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease, reduce their stress levels and improve their mood, think more clearly and do better in school and at work, get along better with people, and make better decisions thus avoiding injuries.
Take Two Aspirin And Call Me In The Morning
The National Institute of Health (NIH) says adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to stay in good mental and physical health, promote quality of life, and avoid an increased risk of injury. They recommend these tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Go to sleep the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning
- Don’t take naps after 3 p.m and don’t nap longer than 20 minutes
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day
- Avoid nicotine
- Limit exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid heavy meals late in the day
- Make your bedroom comfortable, dark, and quiet
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep
- If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy
- Talk with a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping
Words To Sleep On
So instead of stressing about all the things you didn’t do to take care of your health today, sleep on the following well-heeded advice:
”Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
“Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health.”
When I wake up, I am reborn.”
“Sleep is the best meditation.”
“Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.”
“I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.”
”Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
“Let’s start (on the path to good health) by taking a smallish nap or two …”
Winnie the Pooh