01/21 2013

Tip #10: Get Your ZZZZs

Today is #10 of my 13 healthy living tips for 2013.

Sleep is one of the foundations of good health, yet is so often denied. In fact, according to the CDC, 41 million working Americans are not getting the recommended amount of sleep. The number one cause of sleeplessness is stress.

The many benefits of sleep include a better memory, longer life, reduced inflammation and illness, increased creativity and improved performance, just to name a few. A lack of sleep, on the other hand, can contribute to overeating and weight gain. It can cause symptoms of depression, make your skin look older and kill your sex drive, just to name a few.

Though the National Sleep Association recommends an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, the amount a person needs can vary. Some can function after as little as six hours/night while others need  10-12. If you’re dozing off during the day or find yourself getting irritable, moody and/or forgetful, then you might need to hit the hay a little earlier.

To improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, try to develop a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Skip the afternoon latte, avoid afternoon naps and late-night workouts, eat earlier in the evening, drink less alcohol and eat a more balanced diet. These are just a few of the ways you can sleep more soundly.

Challenge #10: As you maintain your Weekly Health Calendar as suggested in tip #4, be sure to note your sleep patterns. Do you feel better when you sleep more? Eat more or workout less when you sleep less?

Observe the trends and adjust your bedtime accordingly.

Sources: CBS.com, WebMD, American Psychological Association

Illustration by Luke Neely

 

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