Nearly 60 percent of all Americans suffer from some form of insomnia. Whether it’s caused by stress, hormonal changes, or poor sleep habits, almost 20% of Americans are troubled by chronic fatigue. Many studies are proving this to be a health problem. Insomnia and waking up fatigued not only affects your mood and physical performance, it can affect your health in serious ways. Studies have linked insomnia to increased risks of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and a shorter life expectancy.
The mind body connection – When you sleep, the body rebuilds the synapses of brain cells. This is how the brain communicates. The most disrupted connections are those controlling memory, attention, and alertness according to research.
Muscle and skin – Your body produces growth hormone while it sleeps. Growth hormone helps our bodies build muscle, keep our skin healthy, and repair damaged tissues. Loss of sleep decreases growth hormone production and negatively affects these process.
Your Immune System – People who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night have 50 percent higher risk of viral infections. These people have an elevate risk of heart disease and stroke.
Blood Sugar Metabolism – Your body is more sensitive to insulin when it has proper rest. Without rest, your body can’t metabolize sugars efficiently and can potentially make you 4.5 times more likely to develop pre diabetes.
Your sense of well-being – Lack of sleep leaves oneself cranky, 5 times more likely to become depressed, and 20 times more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Don’t panic and lose even more sleep. We can make some simple and effective changes to improve your sleep and health simultaneously. These include:
1. Dim the lights – Light inhibits melatonin production which aids in sleep, turn off all electronics that produce light. At the very least, turn your alarm clock face away from you.
2. Check your mattress – Is your bed comfortable? If not, it’s time for a new mattress. Another idea for your mattress is to purchase a dust mite resistant casing. Dust mites may cause allergies reactions, thus affecting the quality of sleep.
3. Reduce room temperature – The cooler the room, the slower your metabolic processes. These can prevent mental racing which can lead to insomnia. Turn the room temperature down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce further if needed.
4. Keep your feet warm – The American Journal of Physiology suggest that wearing socks may help initiate sleep by drawing blood away from your core and cooling you off.
5. Don’t count sheep – Don’t just lie there and count sheep. This can lead to anxiety and create insomnia. Take an over-the-counter sleep aid if need be. Look for ones that contain melatonin, chamomile, GABA, and 5-HTP. These natural components and amino acids are far more affective than antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and Dixieline (ingredients found in Benadryl and Sominex)
6. Exercise at the right time – Research has shown exercising 3 to 4 times per week increases sleep by 1.25 hours each night. Workout timing is also important. Workouts should be finished at least 2 hours before bed. The best time to workout is late afternoon or early evening.
7. That massage is good for you – A massage or even a warm bath can make nodding off easier. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to either one.
8. Lose weight – Excess weight or obesity can cause sleep apnea, specifically obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the soft palate at the back of the throat collapses and blocks your airway during sleep. This is what football great Reggie White died from OSA also increases risk of heart disease and stroke. Research has shown that losing 10% percent of your body weight improves symptoms of OSA.
Try implementing some of these changes in your lifestyle. I’m confident you will sleep better and improve your health likewise. Sleep and your health go hand-in-hand. Don’t take either for granted. To help you sleep and recover faster try our natural sleep aid, Lights Out. It is sure to help you get a good nights rest and help you recover from a hard days work or intense training sessions.
“Prescribe Your Own Health”
The Prescription Nutrition Team