Health

Published on July 30th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Why a Good Night’s Sleep is Important and How to Get it Tonight

We all know sleep is important.  We’ve been told so by our mothers and fathers, and we’ve told our children the same.  We’ve seen news reports of car accidents caused by people “asleep at the wheel” and witnessed far lighter misfortunes in “caught snoring” videos on YouTube.  But beyond that, what is the danger in missing a few hours of shut-eye each night?  Why is sleep so important?

“Missing needed sleep is like hitting the turbo button on whatever ill-health issues you are battling,” said one sleep specialist at Providence Health. 

Sleep is your body’s time to recharge its batteries for the next day. Without that recharge, stress hormones and inflammatory markers increase, while the neurologic processes slow or malfunction. It’s like removing your body’s first line of defense, while asking its big guns to be ready in case they’re needed.  As a result, normal activities end up drawing on resources that require more energy, resulting is fatigue, in the brain, muscles, and immune system. 

Multiple hazards are associated with a lack of adequate sleep, including functional impairments, hormonal imbalances, worsening of mood disorders, memory related issues, and even worsening of other chronic health issues. 

Giving Strength to Your Demons

One thing you may notice is, when you get too little sleep, any condition that you’re prone to becomes harder to manage or resist because your body’s resources are limited. If you’re prone to seizures, your seizure tolerance diminishes.  If you struggle with OCD, you’ll be less resistant to mental looping.  If you struggle with anxiety, you increase your risk of a panic attack when you aren’t properly rested.  If your body is fighting a cold, you’re more likely to catch it full-blown if you’re lacking sleep. 

It’s the same reason eating healthy late at night can seem much more difficult to someone watching their weight. When a person is tired, the extra energy needed to resist temptation is reduced or depleted.  

Knowing you should have more sleep vs. getting it 

Knowing you need sleep and getting it are two very different things. In fact, stressing about the need for sleep may hinder your ability to get it. 

Fortunately, there are methods to improve your sleep that you can put into place today. Sleep specialists refer to having “good sleep hygiene,” which includes establishing regular sleep and wake times, doing exercise in the morning instead of at night, reserving your bed only for sleep and disallowing any digital screens from the sleep area. Here are some additional recommendations.

Promote healthy sleep by avoiding:

  • bright lights in the evening hours (opt for lamps instead of florescents)
  • late meals
  • caffeine after noon
  • naps
  • stimulating medicines or substances late in the day

If you are concerned that you are not getting adequate sleep, and have tried enacting the tips above, talk to your primary care doctor about a sleep study or a referral to one of our Sleep Diagnostic Centers. Sleep deprivation is one nightmare that you don’t want to haunt you. 

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