Essentials of Sleep

Contributor: James Cruthers, MS, CSAC, ICS, Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor, ThedaCare 

Essentials of Sleep

The Essentials of Sleep

Many Americans underestimate the importance of quality sleep.  It’s often an area we neglect when we get busy and try to squeeze more hours out of a day than really exists.  Too little or poor quality sleep puts us at risk of highway and work-related accidents, impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, problem solving, and memory and increases our risk of developing serious health problems.  Over time lack of sleep can aggravate symptoms of depression, increase the stress hormone cortisol, and release too little human growth hormone.  Lack of sleep can stimulate appetite and cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, therefore increasing weight and problems associated with being overweight.

So what’s the answer? 

  1. Honestly assess how many hours of uninterrupted sleep you get.  If it’s less than seven or eight hours ask yourself what time would you need to go to bed in order to get the recommended amount of sleep?
  2. Don’t eat during the three hours before bed.
  3. ‘Power Down’ (shut off the television, computer, phone) at least 30 minutes before your ideal bedtime giving your mind a chance to stop processing ‘stuff’ from the day.
  4. Set aside at least five minutes for stretching or yoga poses before bed, and
  5. Take some time for meditation.  Five minutes of meditation has been shown to improve our sleep quality.

Don’t take your sleep for granted.  When we lose sleep we ‘lose sleep’ and don’t catch up!