We have been discussing goals since the beginning of the new year that are centered around improving our health and wellness. We often think about health and wellness in terms of dieting, nutrition, and exercise, but it extends beyond that. Last week, I wrote about mindfulness – what it means and why it’s important. We understand that being mindful means paying attention to our bodies and what they need. While it’s important to think about our bodies when we’re awake and navigating through our busy schedules, it’s also crucial that we consider how much sleep we’re getting and how important sleep is to how productive we are when we are awake.
I’d like to share some information from the National Sleep Foundation about why sleep is so important and how much sleep we actually need. But first, here are three easy tips for how you can start improving your sleep tonight:
Adjust your device settings:
Our nighttime routine might go something like this: put pajamas on, brush teeth, get into bed, read or peruse the internet on your cell phone or tablet. How many of you are staring at an electronic screen just before turning in? If this is part of your nightly routine, are you aware that the light your phone or tablet emits negatively affects your chances of a good night’s sleep? Blue light, what our devices emit, tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Here’s what you can do – many phones and tablets today offer a nighttime mode that changes the light setting from blue light to a warmer light (what our eyes are used to in the evenings). Essentially, it’s all about telling your eyes and brain that it’s nighttime. When you’re not using a night mode on your device, your brain still thinks it’s day time.
On an iPhone, you can simply go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. There you can adjust when you want your device to automatically change to Night Shift –for example, you can set it to 7PM to 7AM or you can set it to sunset to sunrise.
On an Android device, open your settings app and find Display > Night Light. From here, you can customize the times.
Stop snacking before bedtime:
Try to eat your last meal or snack a few hours before bedtime. Eating a big meal right before bedtime could cause discomfort and make it harder for you to fall asleep. Late-night snacking also creates bad habits that could lead you to making unhealthy choices night after night. You can read about the benefits of intermittent fasting and what our bodies do overnight that can help in weight loss and our overall metabolic health.
Get an easy to moderate work-out in:
Exercising, preferably during daylight hours has also had proven benefits to our sleep. While joining a gym or having a regular workout routine is best, busy schedules can often get in the way. On days where you can’t get to the gym or go for a hike, try taking the stairs instead of an elevator, take a quick walk around your block before heading to work in the morning, or go for a walk with co-worker during your lunch break. By incorporating a moderately intense work-out, you can improve your sleep cycle.
Lastly, as adults we should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep, so prioritize this in your life!
The following is important information from the National Sleep Foundation on the importance of sleep:
We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Exactly how this happens and why our bodies are programmed for such a long period of slumber is still somewhat of a mystery. But scientists do understand some of sleep’s critical functions, and the reasons we need it for optimal health and wellbeing.
One of the vital roles of sleep is to help us solidify and consolidate memories. As we go about our day, our brains take in an incredible amount of information. Rather than being directly logged and recorded, however, these facts and experiences first need to be processed and stored; and many of these steps happen while we sleep. Overnight, bits and pieces of information are transferred from more tentative, short-term memory to stronger, long-term memory—a process called “consolidation.” Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
Healthy sleep is critical for everyone, since we all need to retain information and learn skills to thrive in life. But this is likely part of the reason children—who acquire language, social, and motor skills at a breathtaking pace throughout their development—need more sleep than adults. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10.During these critical periods of growth and learning, younger people need a heavy dose of slumber for optimal development and alertness.
Unfortunately, a person can’t just accumulate sleep deprivation and then log many hours of sleep to make up for it (although paying back “sleep debt” is always a good idea if you’re sleep deprived). The best sleep habits are consistent, healthy routines that allow all of us, regardless of our age, to meet our sleep needs every night, and keep on top of life’s challenges every day.
We believe in making healthy, lifelong changes to your daily eating and exercise patterns. Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness’s programs are different from other weight loss programs in that they are specifically constructed by bariatric specialists to meet each patient’s individual needs based on their body chemistry, lifestyle, and weight loss goals. Our individualized programs focus on providing positive alternatives to unhealthy habits and targeting foods which provide your body with the specific nutrients it needs for optimal energy and fat metabolism. Practical exercise and hydration are also implemented into our overall program.
We encourage you to become a part of our successful weight loss program. We offer 50 years of safety, experience, knowledge and expertise found nowhere else! Get in touch today to learn more!
Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash