Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A thin line between cheesecake and sleep deprivation

On the train ride into Manhattan, I looked around at my fellow straphangers. I counted 2 Red Bulls in the crowded car, and despite the humid July weather, 1 cup of hot coffee.  Judging by the number of heads nodding off, bleary eyes and contagious rounds of yawning, these folks either don’t know how much sleep they should be getting, or despite knowing better, have no idea how to go about getting it.

I should count myself among the latter group (who’s with me?) It’s not that we don’t know better, that according to the experts, adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Instead, we’re just too busy with daily routines and responsibilities to commit to that chunk of time. Add to that occasional bouts of anxiety, cramming, or late night ‘this calls for cheesecake’ sessions…. and we’ve whittled down to 4 -6 hours at best.

I LOVE the "Golden Girls," by the way – but staying up late to watch them on cable TV is yet another reason I’m sleeping less than I should. And falling asleep in front of the television is just one indication of sleep deprivation.

This resource page at helpguide.org lists a few others:

You may be sleep deprived if you...
               Rely on the snooze button
               Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
               Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
In the long run, sleep deprivation can lead to
               Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
               Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
              Concentration and memory problems
▪       Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems

BUT, you can help increase your sleep yours by turning off light sources like lamps, television sets and computer screens when you go to bed. Sleeping in the dark – even if it's 
less than the recommended 7 -9 hours - actually helps your body to get the restorative sleep it needs. You’ll also minimize use of electricity and save on energy costs in the process.

In its mission of “waking America to the Importance of sleep, The National Sleep Foundation has launched a website this month. The new “Inside Your Bedroom, Use Your Senses Website” is said to be the first to combine sleep sciences and the five senses to help people create their ideal sleep environments.

The Mayo Clinic also suggests some tips for healthier sleeping habits that include sticking to a sleep schedule, limiting daytime naps, and making your bedroom a strictly sleep zone.  That means as little interference from gadgets and electronics as possible. It may be difficult to put all these tips into practice, but by making small changes, you can get more rest and improve your overall wellness!

 Until next time, continued health and sleep well :)

- C.

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