There are only four things that are essential to keep our bodies alive. We need oxygen so we can breathe, water so we are hydrated, food so we are nourished, and sleep so we can function. Sleep plays an essential role in the renewal and repair of body tissue, in metabolism, growth and development, infection control, learning and memory, and in the regulation of our emotions.
Do you prioritize and protect your sleep? You are worth it! Each of us have our unique optimal sleep time and schedule. When I travel with my daughter or youngest sister, I have a good hour more awake daily than they do. I read, walk, or meditate while they fulfill their sleep requirements. Self-awareness is the first step to great sleep.
Sleep hygiene refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. What are your favorite rituals before bed to help you sleep? Here are some of the principles for good sleep hygiene, how consistent are you?
• Go to bed early enough for you to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Stick to the same bedtime when possible.
• If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go do a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure. It is especially important to not get on electronics.
• Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn lights down, stay away from screens or TV. Consider a warm shower or bath.
• Use mindfulness techniques to reduce thoughts and a racing mind.
• Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
• Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
• Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
Insomnia is costly
Insufficient sleep has an estimated economic impact of more than $411 billion in the U.S. according to the national library of medicine. 4.8 of 10 workers say they are regularly tired during the day, and 7 of 10 say they are tired when their workday is done. One study estimates the annual cost of workplace errors and accidents linked to insomnia at $31.1 billion. Drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,000 fatal car crashes annually.
Up to 75% of older adults experience symptoms of insomnia including multiple physical and psychiatric disorders. Forty percent of people with insomnia may have a diagnosable mental health condition. Fifty-four percent of adults say stress and anxiety were the top reasons they have trouble falling asleep. As much as 91% of adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have symptoms of insomnia.
Children who lose 39 minutes of sleep or more have a harder time coping at school and typically feel worse than those getting enough sleep. An interesting study shows that adolescents push their bedtime back by 16 minutes for every 30 minutes they spend playing video games.
You may find consulting a professional for medications, supplements, or cognitive behavior therapy useful. Make a commitment to yourself to get the best sleep possible every day. Our community needs you to function at your best.
Nighttime disruptions may cause sleep fragmentation and reduce time spent in deep sleep. Noise may disrupt sleep and increase production of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, as well as increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Pain and heartburn can disrupt sleep. To minimize these symptoms, manage your pain well. Mind what you put in your mouth before bed. Eating within two hours before bed is linked to later bedtimes, trouble falling and staying asleep, and obesity. Adults who snack on seeds and nuts before bed sleep 32 minutes more, on average, than those who snack on chips, crackers, or pretzels.
Sleep disorders such as grinding your teeth, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, snoring, and sleepwalking are common. Managing these types of sleep disorders requires self-awareness, proactivity, and prioritizing self-care. If you have a partner who may also be negatively affected by your interrupted sleep, request they be part of your support team.
During various times in your life, you may need to adjust your sleep as life circumstances ebb and flow. Here in Minnesota, we are moving into longer darkness each day and colder temperatures. Take advantage of the changing season to prioritize your commitment for optimal sleep. You got this!