The Importance of Sleep for Health and Wellness

Many people know that good nutritional habits and consistent exercise are important determinants for overall health and wellness. Equally important for your health and healing is consistent, quality sleep. Sufficient sleep is necessary to fight off infection, support the metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes, and for better performance in school or in the workplace.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “poor sleep health is a common problem with 25 percent of U.S. adults reporting insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days.” People who sleep less than six hours a night due to lifestyle choices experience temporary fatigue, disorientation, and decreased alertness.

Poor quality or quantity of sleep can have adverse effects on your health, such as an increased risk for high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, weight gain, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Inadequate sleep interrupts the balance of vital hormones that are involved in regulating your appetite. When there is a disruption of these hormones due to lack of sleep, it may lead to overeating. Also, research shows that “inadequate or low-quality sleep, increases inflammation in the body, which is a risk factor for several diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer,” according to the American Journal of Physiology.

Making sleep a priority in your life is achievable. Strive for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room. For an athlete in training, an extra hour may be needed for athletic performance and to reduce the risk of injury and illness.  Your body repairs itself when sleeping so athletes should strive for 8-10 hours per night. How can you get a better sleep? Below are a few tips:

  • Try to go to sleep and get up the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • If you nap, limit sleep to 15-20 minutes or you may have trouble falling asleep at bedtime.
  • During the day, spend more time outside during daylight or expose yourself to light through a sunny window.
  • At night, avoid computers, cell phones, and television a few hours before bedtime.
  • Regular physical activity improves sleep quality. Timing is important because if you exercise too close to bed, it can interfere with sleep, so a morning or afternoon workout is best.
  • Eating a healthy diet plays a role in how well you sleep. Limit caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol close to bedtime. Drinking too many liquids in the evening may result in frequent trips to the bathroom.
  • Managing stress and clearing your head before bed will help you fall asleep faster. You could try a few minutes of meditation through an app called InsightTimer or take a warm bath. Prepare for the next day by writing down a few “to dos” and setting out your workout gear, so there is less to think about at bedtime.
  • Use “Bedtime” on your iPhone to set the amount of time that you want to sleep each night, and the “Clock” app can remind you to go to bed and sound an alarm to wake you up.

Quote of the week:

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  ~Vince Lombardi

Recipe of the Week: Homemade Granola

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup raw nuts

½ cup pumpkin seeds

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup melted coconut oil or olive oil

½ cup maple syrup or honey

Homemade Vegan Granola

Optional mix-ins: ½ cup chocolate chips or coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts and/or seeds, salt and cinnamon. Pour in the oil and maple syrup and mix well until mixture is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto prepared baking sheet and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until lightly golden, about 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through. If adding coconut flakes, add halfway through baking. The granola will further crisp up as it cools. You can add chocolate chips once completely cooled.

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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