By Jessica Van Eerde
A Critical Element of Good Health
Get to bed early! Make sure you get “good” sleep! You need at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night! These are all edicts we hear daily, whether from our doctors, our family, or even our own self-reminders. Why is sleep so important and why is it, that without the proper amount of sleep, we feel awful and unable to cope with a new day? Sleep has been the focus of a large amount of scientific research for these very reasons. In the same ways that proper nutrition and exercise are imperative to excellent health, sleep is also critical. Sleep plays an important role in learning, memory, a high functioning immune system, and the proper function of one’s metabolism. Without proper sleep it is difficult to learn new information or to process and retain previously learned information. Finally, lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on perception and judgment. For each of these reasons, it is clear why getting a good night sleep is so important. So, how does one ensure they are getting “good” sleep? Researchers have identified several activities that may assist people in getting a quality night’s sleep. One of the first steps is to create a positive sleep space. Your room should be quiet, dark, and cool. Optimum temperature for the bedroom is between 60 and 75°F. If it helps, use a white noise machine or ear plugs to drown out outside noises. It is also important to create a mental association
October November 2014
that the bedroom is a place for quiet time and sleep. As such, keeping computers, TVs, and any work related materials out of the bedroom is a wise idea. Another step you can take is to create a pre-sleep pattern for yourself. One hour before bed find a way to de-stress and avoid any stimulating activities; yes, this includes using your phone, computer or watching TV, as the bright lights and constant stimulation have a negative impact on your brain’s ability to sleep. If you have difficulty “turning off your brain” at night and take your problems to bed, try writing them out before hand and resolving to deal with them tomorrow. In addition to creating a positive sleep space and a presleep pattern, it is important to set your body’s internal clock. You can do this by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Doing this, even on the weekends, will ensure that you are giving your body the amount of sleep it needs and will program your body when to be tired and when to be alert. Getting a good night sleep is possible if you take the time to make it a priority. Making small changes can have a big impact on your overall wellbeing. It is important to remember that sleep is just as critical to your health as adequate nutrition and physical activity so do what you can to get a good night sleep! ¢
Published on Oct 2, 2014
Published on Oct 2, 2014
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