Guest Author - Linda Steele
If you walked into any first-period high school classroom you would find it obvious that many teenagers are on the brink of exhaustion. However, this epidemic doesn’t stop there, studies over the past few decades have shown that all Americans sleep less.
How about you? How many hours of sleep do you get on a nightly basis? Seven hours? More? Less? If you're not getting enough sleep, not only are you setting yourself up for weight gain, but for depression, memory loss, and cognitive impairment as well.
Sleep deprivation is associated with serious health problems such as: obesity, depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Your emotional well-being, performance, productivity, and mental abilities are all linked to the amount of sleep you get. To be your best, you need an adequate amount of sleep every night.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation can arise from the inability to fall asleep, disrupted sleep, waking up early from snoring (yours or your significant other’s), children, animals or waking up too early because windows that let in too much light. If you have a snoring partner, children or animals that don’t sleep through the night, you know firsthand how hard it can be to get a good night's sleep – and what the consequences are if you don’t. You wake up groggy and irritable.
According to Dr. Epstein, “As Americans are losing sleep are becoming overweight.” Sleep deprivation increases appetite through hormonal changes. Specifically, more of the appetite-increasing ghrelin is produced when you're not getting enough sleep and less of the appetite-suppressing leptin is produced. This naturally causes you to eat more and gain weight.
Researchers at the University of Virginia have found that disrupted sleep or lack of sleep can impair IQ and cognitive development in children. Lower grades and poor peer relations can also result from sleep deprivation.
Sleep is crucial to your emotional and physical well-being. Not getting enough sleep negatively affects your body image – especially since we know that sleep deprivation lowers self-esteem.
In addition to the 10 effective strategies that Dr. Helene Emsellem brings in Snooze…or Lose, I like to use the following tips for a good night’s rest:
1. Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day.
2. Watch your caffeine in-take. If you take any caffeine, take it early in the day, preferably before noon. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. They will delay sleep and increase arousals during the night.
3. Avoid watching stimulating TV or reading intriguing books before sleep. If the material is thought provoking or gruesome, you may be thinking about the show or book when you should be sleeping.
4. Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful.
5. Avoid exercise near bedtime. No exercise 2-3 hours before bed.
6. Don't go to bed hungry. If you are hungry, have a light snack but avoid eating a heavy meal before bed.
7. Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. Keep routines on your normal schedule. A cup of herbal tea (my favorite night time teas are Peppermint and Chamomile) about an hour before bed can begin a routine. Hot baths are also great to relax and unwind. Putting a drop of Lavender essential oil on your pillow can also help induce relaxation and sleep.
8. If you have problems with noise in your environment you can use a white noise generator. You can buy noise machines from many sources or even an old fan will work.
9. If you or your sleeping partner snores, eliminate alcohol before bedtime. Sometimes people snore only if they have had some alcohol or may snore worse if they already snore. You may also want to try the Therapeutica Pillow. This pillow allows for spinal alignment which helps to eliminate snoring (and shoulder pain if you are a side-sleeper). It is the only pillow endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association. I absolutely love mine.
10. Avoid working too late in the evening. The stress of deadlines or the excitement of working on a project can prevent sleep, as one idea after another keeps coming.
So, make sure you're getting the right amount and the right kind of sleep. Not only will it increase your feelings of well-being, it can even help you lose weight.