With every new year, there is an influx of new year resolutions and attempts to ‘be healthier,’ ‘join a gym’ or focus on your individual health and wellbeing. While we have all heard a lot over the years about the importance of a good diet and regular exercise, the importance of sleep has received less attention. The Sleep Health Foundation argues that sleep is the third pillar of health, alongside diet and exercise. Sleep has a huge impact on your overall physical and mental health, here’s why.
Sleep allows your body to recover from the rigors of daily life, strengthens your muscles after exercise and alleviate tension held in your body. Sleep deprivation often increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol and can decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. As a result, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus. This has a domino effect as poor sleep leads to poor performance in and may cause cravings for unhealthy foods, which can promote weight gain. Similarly, dietary carelessness can yield poor sleep and may impair performance.
To kick off the new year with some AMAZING sleep habits, the UCSD Center for Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine have compiled their top 10 recommendations for a healthy night’s sleep.
Healthy Sleep Hygiene Recommendations
- Don’t go to bed until you are sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy, get out of bed and do something else until you become sleepy.
- Regular bedtime routines/rituals help you relax and prepare your body for bed (reading, warm bath, etc.).
- Try to get up at the same time every morning (including weekends and holidays).
- Try to get a full night’s sleep every night, and avoid naps during day if possible (if you must nap, limit to 1 h and avoid nap after 3 p.m.).
- Use the bed for sleep and intimacy only; not for any other activities such as TV, computer or phone use, etc.
- Avoid caffeine if possible (if must use caffeine, avoid after lunch).
- Avoid alcohol if possible (if must use alcohol, avoid right before bed).
- Do not smoke cigarettes or use nicotine, ever.
- Consider avoiding high-intensity exercise right before bed (extremely intense exercise may raise cortisol, which impairs sleep).
- Make sure bedroom is quiet, as dark as possible, and a little on the cool side rather than warm (similar to a cave).
This year why not shift your focus to your sleep health and see if this makes a difference to your everyday life, so you can reclaim your amazing.