Sleep Slackers... I was one of them
When most people think of health they strictly think of diet and exercise, but there are really 3 pillars of good health - diet, exercise, and sleep. I know how hard it can be to squeezing sleep on to your "to-do" list. I have been struggling with getting enough sleep almost my entire life, from having to wake up at 3:30am for Good Morning America, having 7 children, and being a working mom and caregiver, there never seemed to be enough hours in my day for sleep! But sacrificing our sleep means sacrificing our health. Harvard Medical University says that sleep improves immune function, metabolism, and learning and that lack of sleep can lead to:
- Mood disorders
- Shortened life expectancy
- Poor judgment, focus, memory, cognitive function, and performance
- Lower productivity
- Increased likelihood of automobile accident
So we have some really good reasons to stop slacking on sleep. As we age lack of sleep consequences become even more serious as memory, focus, cognitive function, and disease prevention become even more important. If you know how important sleep is, but still have a hard time getting a good nights rest I have some great tips for you to try:
- Cut out the cat naps: Napping can be great, but if you are napping more than 20 minutes a day, you may be interfering with your sleep.
- Get some sun: Sunlight helps your body to produce melatonin, which regulates your sleep cycle. Try to get at least two hours of exposure to bright light each day.
- Exercise: It is recommended that we exercise early in the day and never within three hours of bedtime. Exercising too late in the day can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. A daily exercise habit will not only improve your sleep hygiene, but it will also improve your overall health.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine: These are three other culprits that can wreak havoc on your sleep. If you are having trouble, cut back and be sure not to use any of these within three hours of going to bed.
- Sleep on memory foam: I wasn’t able to get a good sleep until I took my doctor’s advice and tried memory foam. After finally waking up refreshed and without any body aches I started my own line of memory foam sleepsolutions called Awaken (sold on QVC). If you sleep on a memory foam mattress the foam will contour to your body and relieve pressure points allowing you to put those nights of tossing and turning behind you. There are also memory foam mattress toppers and pillows to help you get a good nights sleep.
I have slacked on sleep in my past, especially when I had to wake up before the sun, but since sleep is so important for your health I encourage everyone to take the time to fit more hours of sleep into your schedules.