Sleep is as important to your physical and mental wellbeing as your diet and exercise. It doesn't matter how healthy you eat, how much yoga you do, or how much you exercise every day.
If you're not getting enough sleep or not getting restful sleep - you're going to see physical and mental consequences.
It's not always as easy as getting into bed early every night. Millions of people struggle to get a good night's sleep.
Today we're going to talk about why it's so important to have good quality sleep, what can disrupt your sleep, and some ways you can start improving your sleep.
If you're unable to get adequate sleep or have poor sleep quality, there are several health consequences you may be facing. One of the biggest health issues related to poor sleep is a heightened stress response.
This can look like emotional distress, behavioral changes, as well as manifest into physical symptoms. Your blood pressure can become chronically elevated contributing to heart issues later in life.1
Blood sugar (glucose) levels can also become chronically elevated if you're not getting enough sleep and this can increase your risk for developing insulin resistance and subsequent diabetes. Weight gain is also commonly associated with poor sleep quality due to the physical changes related to a heightened stress response.1
Headache and abdominal pain are two somatic symptoms related to poor sleep.
Mood disorders and mental health problems have been linked to sleep disruptions.1 This includes depression, changes in memory, and impaired decision-making skills.1
Simply put, when you're not getting enough sleep, your quality-of-life decreases.1
There are several reasons you may be struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. Some of the more common reasons include:
If you are overly stressed, your body is often in a hyperarousal state meaning it's extra aware and in tune to what is going on around you. While this is important if you're in danger or need to finish a project on time - it makes it difficult to wind down at night.
Life stressors, anxiety, and even physical pain from an injury or chronic illness can keep your body in this hyper alert state and disrupt your sleep.
Something else that can keep you aware is by overstimulation, especially before bed. This can mean scrolling on your phone for an hour before bed or binge-watching several episodes of Netflix while in bed. The blue light as well as the stimulation from the screen both keep your mind in a state of high alert.
This makes it difficult to simply turn the TV off or put your phone down and fall asleep right away.
Caffeine and alcohol can also interfere with your sleep patterns. They can make it tough to fall asleep and it can prevent you from entering deeper states of sleep where your body gets the most restoration from.2
Napping in the afternoon, sleeping in late on random mornings like the weekend, and using your bed for things other than sleep or sex can all contribute to poor sleep.
Even if you've struggled to get a good night's sleep for years, there are several natural approaches to improving sleep and sleep quality.
One of the more difficult yet more important ones is to create a sleep schedule . This means trying to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day.
Some people think if they've pulled an all-nighter working, they can just 'catch up' the next day, but our bodies don't work like that. So, sticking to a similar schedule each day (even on the weekends) can help get your body into a healthy sleep routine.
Going along with a sleep schedule, establishing a bedtime routine can further improve your odds of falling asleep at a decent hour. There's no right or wrong way to have a bedtime routine - this can look like taking a cool shower before bed, reading a few pages in a book, or doing a gentle yoga or mindfulness routine.
When trying to change your surroundings to improve sleep - make your room as dark as possible. Use black out curtains or an eye mask to keep it dark and avoid having a TV in your bedroom.
Other things that can help support healthy sleep are reducing your blue light exposure . You get blue light from your phone, TV, computer, and even lights in your home. Blue light interferes with melatonin release which is the hormone responsible for helping you shut down and go to sleep.
Turning off or putting away devices up to three hours before bedtime is ideal or use a night-mode on them to reduce blue light.
Having your hormone levels checked is another way to ensure you're doing everything you need regarding healthy sleep. Checking melatonin and cortisol levels to name a few can help you determine if changes need to be made.
If you're in the Fort Lauderdale area and struggle to get a good night's sleep, Dr. Cabrera and his team at Genesis Health Institute can help.
Dr. Cabrera and his team are here to support healthy sleep with a functional medicine approach.
1001 NE 26th Street,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33305
(954) 561-3175 FAX: (954) 561-9265
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