Sunday, November 3, 2019 marks the beginning of Daylight-Saving Time in Texas. This time we “fall back” an hour and supposedly gain back and hour of sleep… that is if you have a regimented sleep routine. For most of us though, we never sleep. Demanding schedules, constant incoming messages with social media and more and more hours spent on our computers, phones, and other technology adds to the constant interruption of sleep. You would think our lives would be easier with these devices, but it’s just the opposite.
Lack of sleep causes stress, and we all know what stress can do to our mind and body.
The symptoms of not getting enough sleep are:
- Lack of focus
- High blood pressure
- Lower cognitive functioning
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lack of motivation
- Higher susceptibility to infections and injury
- Slow healing from illness and injury
In addition, lack of sleep can make chronic illnesses worsen, and contribute to slower recovery for those who are injured or have physically strenuous jobs.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, reports that about 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, while an additional 20 million people suffer occasional sleep problems. There are more than 80 different sleep disorders that are generally classified into one of three categories:
- Lack of Sleep (Insomnia)
- Disturbed Breathing during Sleep (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
- Excessive Sleep (Narcolepsy)
So, how much sleep should we be getting?
As a rule, children and teenagers need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Our sleep needs typically decline as we age. Individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s normally need 6-8 hours each night. 50 and up generally need 6-7 hours each night.
What about naps? Naps are good for children of all ages to recoup the energy they are expending daily. Adults should keep their naps at a minimum as to not disrupt their nightly sleep schedule. Too many naps may cause insomnia.
To help you sleep, you should:
- Avoid eating right before bed so that your body isn’t working to digest the food.
- Eat healthy foods to promote proper digestion and avoid bloating, gas and nausea at night.
- Stay off all electronic devices for a minimum of 30 minutes before bedtime. The bright light and eye movement causes your brain to stay active and alert.
- Exercise daily. It releases sleep-inducing hormones, inducing fatigue and contributing to weight loss and other health benefits. Avoid working out 2-3 hours before bedtime though because it can increase heart rate, blood pressure and hormones that may keep you up.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine within three hours before bedtime. Drinking too closely to bedtime disrupts quality sleep, as does caffeine.
- Quit smoking or other tobacco use. Tobacco is a stimulant.
- Read drug labels for both prescribed and over-the-counter medicine. Certain medications can affect sleep.
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body and heart. Just don’t drink too much before bed to avoid those ‘middle-of-the-night’ bathroom trips.
Sleep is essential and plays a huge roll in your health. Take advantage of the time change and try some of these tips to get a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!
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