Sleep Like Your Health Depends On It, Because It Does
Good sleep is a life-saver. Our minds and bodies recharge when we maintain a regular sleep schedule and have a sufficient amount of rest to meet our individual needs. Beyond the obvious physical benefits, getting enough sleep improves our emotional and mental wellbeing.
With our busy lives and endless distractions, it’s no surprise that getting enough sleep is a problem for many people. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now considers our society’s lack of sufficient sleep a public health concern. Many of us almost never get enough sleep, and over time, that’s a bad thing. Physicians and public health officials are very concerned about the “sleep debt” that many of us face through a cumulative lack of restful sleep. Recent studies focus on important consequences of prolonged sleep deprivation, such as drowsy driving, high blood pressure, cognitive impairments, and falling asleep at work.
While individual sleep needs vary, most adults need between 7 and 8 hours per day. Infants, toddlers, children, and teens need more than that. Although some of us are able to function on fewer hours, only a small number of us can maintain a regular and healthy lifestyle on less than 6 hours of sleep each day. More than one in six Americans suffer from insomnia, and that number increases every year.
The Benefits of Quality Sleep
Considering the potential health and quality of life costs of not getting enough sleep, it’s worth making an effort to regularly get enough good and restful sleep, yes, even during the busy holiday season. Let’s take a moment to consider the benefits of quality sleep, such as:
- Staying focused. Everyone knows the feeling of being sleepy during the day. It has a big impact on alertness, memory, focus and creativity. Working all night to meet a deadline may work for that immediate goal, but it usually results in a few lost days as your sleep bank is drained and you lose the ability to focus and concentrate on your work. We all function most efficiently and think more clearly when our brains have sufficiently recharged with enough quality sleep.
- Reducing the incidence of obesity. Chronic sleep deprivation tends to have a disruptive effect on the metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. Stress hormones disrupted by lack of sleep may increase your appetite and cause you to eat more food. This effect can happen even if you are in bed enough hours, but you have poor quality sleep. Restorative sleep is important to keep your body working at its peak.
- Maintaining good heart health. Irregular or insufficient sleeping schedules place stress on our cardiovascular system. Although this is true for people of all ages, the situation becomes more pronounced with older adults who may already have high blood pressure. Those who suffer from high blood pressure must be extra vigilant in getting enough quality sleep.
- Strengthening friendships and relationships. No one wants to be around a grouch for long. A healthy and regular sleep schedule reduces irritability and lessens the tendency to become argumentative or unhappy over trivial matters. A well-rested person tends to feel happier, think more calmly and not make decisions that may alienate a friend, family member, or loved one.
- Lessening illness and serious accidents. Depriving the body of sufficient sleep weakens our immune system and increases the probability of becoming ill and staying sick, something none of us want to experience. While snoozing on the couch in front of the TV is relatively harmless (unless you are alone with small children, of course, who need supervision) those who fail to get enough rest have an increased tendency to fall asleep at work or even behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a significant safety issue and a concern for everyone who travels on our roads.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep
There are ways you can improve your sleep, such as:
- Avoiding large meals and intense exercise in the hours just before bedtime.
- Refraining from caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and reducing or ending your nicotine habit that causes you to wake in the night.
- Teaching your body to get into a wind-down mode before bedtime by getting away from electronic devices and other items that may distract you.
- Maintaining a consistent sleep pattern as much as possible.
- Creating a comfortable and consistent sleeping environment by controlling noise, light, and temperature fluctuations whenever you can.
Your Pillow is Key to a Good Night’s Sleep
The pillow you sleep on can make a big difference in how restful your sleep is and whether you wake relaxed and refreshed, free of neck pain or headache. Preferred by many of the world’s top resorts and luxury hotels, Sobel Westex’s high quality bed pillows are available with varying degrees of firmness to match your preference and sleep style. Sobel Westex pillows support your neck and body so you fully relax and enjoy deeper, more restful sleep.