When I was a kid, our family had a rotary telephone that was connected to the “network” via wires. Any of you guys remember those…? When I would reach for the phone late in the evening, my father would remind me to never call anyone after 9 PM. It was actually some great advice because getting a good night’s sleep makes a big difference in the way we feel and function every day. Even worse, keeping someone awake can make them downright irritable…
Sadly, sleep is one of the foundational health pillars that we often either misunderstand or convince ourselves we can ignore. As you are likely aware, good sleep allows our brains to remodel and our bodies to de-stress, so we can function optimally the next day. Also, as we move through the deep stages of REM sleep, we grow, heal and burn fat stores, making sleep a critical component of lifelong health.
The Perils of Poor Sleep
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, restricting sleep to less than six hours per night dramatically affects cognitive function. They also tell us that people with poor sleep tend to experience more stressors and conflicts the following day. Just thinking about that keeps us awake at night…
As you might guess, being awake more hours per day simply requires more energy. Consequently, your hunger hormones stimulate your appetite, especially for foods rich in fat and carbohydrates. Plus, folks who sleep less also tend to lead busy lives with irregular meal patterns. Consequently, they also tend to choose a less-healthy diet. As we all know, sleeping less simply makes us tired during the day, so we tend to reduce physical activity and spend more time in passive activities - like watching TV – or scanning endless video feeds on social media...
A Few Simple Rules for Good Sleep
Okay… so getting a good night’s sleep is something we all should prioritize. The recommendation is between 7 and 9 hours for most everyone. Here are some great tips for getting those much-needed zzz’s:
• Try to make sure you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
• Never use caffeine after 12 noon - limit coffee to no more than 2 cups per day
• No screen time two hours before bed (especially your phone… almost all of us are guilty of this)
• Try meditation or prayer to settle down at the end of your day and before sleeping
• Maintain a dark, quiet, cool, comfortable room where you sleep
• Just keep the TV out of the bedroom, read a good book instead
Being at the Top of Your Game
Bottom line: When you’re well-rested, you can perform optimally, and you’re able to give every day your very best. You can then both enjoy your moments and impact the world around you in positive ways. Never forget… each of you is an amazing person with incredible potential to contribute to your family, your friends and your community. We wish you a good night’s sleep!
Be well and take good care.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2019). Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/sleep-and-obesity/