Sleeping is the Key to a Stronger…Everything

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Remember the days you begged your parents to stay up “just one more hour” or the all-nighters pulled in college and worn like a badge of glory, especially if they saved your grade?

Those tactics might have been easy to rebound from before, but these days, if you want to feel, perform, and look your best, you can’t afford to skip out on sleep.

We think it’s high time to put a pin in the glorification of busy and instead, start bragging about how many hours we logged last night. Here’s why:

Sleeping is the Key to a Stronger…Everything

In an article posted on TIME Health, Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley said, “I used to suggest that sleep is the third pillar of good health, along with diet and exercise. But I don’t agree with that anymore. Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for health.”

This statement is supported by a multitude of studies that show the effects of sleep deprivation or “sleep debt” to include weight gain and corresponding diabetes risk, harmful impact on endocrine functionreduced cognitive function especially in the realm of attention and weakened brain processing ability, and suppressed immune system capabilities.

And beyond the hard facts on your health, the TODAY “Snooze or Lose” Sleep Survey, which surveyed 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older found behavioral effects of sleeplessness to be as follows:

•    23 percent had difficulty performing chores

•    19 percent lost interested in hobbies and leisure activities

•    16 percent reported falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day

•    16 percent experienced short tempers or inappropriate behavior with children or partners

•    13 percent reported short tempers or inappropriate behavior at work

So, not only does a lack of sleep directly impact our body’s functional capacity but our behavioral function as well.

Unlocking Your Sleeping Routine

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations study, most adults require approximately eight hours of sleep per 24 hours, but individual sleep needs may range anywhere from six to nine hours.

That specific range is determined by our circadian rhythms, which regulate a variety of cyclic bodily functions such as appetite, hormone release, metabolism, and the sleep-wake cycle.

While everyone’s internal clock is set to approximately 24 hours, not everyone’s circadian rhythms progress at the same pace. For example, if your circadian rhythm runs faster than 24 hours, you’re probably someone who classifies as a “morning person.” And if your rhythm runs slower than 24 hours, you’re likely thought to be a “night owl.”

This variation, while notably dependent on genetics, is also heavily impacted by a host of lifestyle factors such as stress, work schedules, and environment. And since the majority of people are not able to choose a sleep routine that matches their genetic sleep-wake cycle due to schedules and other external commitments, it’s critical to unlock your sleep routine so that if you can’t be flexible in either your wake time, you can put a boundary around your bedtime (and vice versa if the alternate is true for your lifestyle).

We suggest using Dr. Michael Breus also known as The Sleep Doctor’s “Sleep Calculator,” to determine the quantity and quality of your sleep to help you determine your bedtime or wake time so you can “get sufficient rest, maintain healthy circadian and sleep-wake rhythms, and wake naturally feeling refreshed and ready to begin your day.”

How to be Successful at Sleeping

In addition to knowing your ideal bed or wake time and being diligent about getting your necessary hours, it’s critical to take actions that ensure you’re adequately preparing your body and surroundings for sound sleep.

For example, restrict screen time 30 minutes before bed and keep your space sacred by not charging your phone directly on your bedside table.

Instead, opt for charging your phone in another room entirely and use a traditional alarm clock to make sure you get up on time.

You can find more of these tips from Ariana Huffington’s 12 Tips for Better Sleep, and in addition to those bedtime tips, we highly suggest thinking about not only how you transition into sleep, but also how you wake up and move from resting to active.

Some ways to ease yourself out of sleep and into wakefulness is by using a gradual wake up alarm clock that emits light that mimics the sun rising, or establish a daily routine or practice.

Whatever your work schedule, commitments or bedtime preferences, find the formula and use the tips that best allow you get some quality time with your mattress for the greater good of your health.

Our challenge to you: make an easy shift or change to improve your sleep quality tonight for a better tomorrow, then tell us what step you’re taking in the comments!


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