Are you getting enough sleep? An obvious cause of being tired is inadequate sleep, but it’s not just as simple as that.

Did you know that you spend about one-third of your life asleep? By the time you’re 75, you will have spent 25 years sleeping.

Both your body and mind need rest. The way you sleep, in part, affects how you feel during waking hours. Quantity and quality matter! The loss of sleep can slowly impact your health over a long period of time or it can hit you in an instant.

Limited sleep and poor quality can impact your health without your initial awareness. 

Many people don’t even recognize they have sleep deficiencies. For most adults, 8-10 hours of sleep is about right. Children need about 11-12 hours per night and teenagers require about 9-11 hours of good sleep per night.

Sleep is also essential for healthy weight loss!

If you just can’t seem to lose those last few pounds it may be because you aren’t sleeping well or enough.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are actually sleeping deeply:

  • Do you wake feeling tired, unmotivated and unable to get out of bed?
  • Do you dread your alarm clock?
  • Do you wake to go to the bathroom during the night?
  • Do you consider yourself a “light” sleeper and almost any little noise will wake you?
  • Do you get 7 or fewer hours of sleep per night?
  • Do you need an afternoon nap in order to function?
  • Do you go to bed after 10:30 PM?
  • Do you follow the above recommended hours of sleep for adults per night?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you sleep in an incompletely dark room?
  • Do you watch TV, play on your phone or work on the computer right before bed?
  • Do you drink alcohol, coffee, caffeinated tea or soda in the late afternoon or before bed?
  • Do you eat right before bedtime?
  • Do you have an electric alarm clock next to your head?
  • Do you keep your cell phone plugged in on your night stand?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your sleep is likely impaired and contributing to exhaustion and to those mysterious symptoms that come and go. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Epidemiology Program Office reports that 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. That is high!

No wonder so many people feel exhausted and have mysterious symptoms. Those researchers found that good sleep really does benefit your health.

Here are a few examples of how sleep supports your health:

  • Fight off infection
  • Support your metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes
  • Helps you perform well in school and on the job
  • Work more effectively and safely

Sleep timing and duration affect a number of endocrine (hormone), metabolic (energy and weight management), and neurological (brain) functions that are critical to the maintenance of your health. If left untreated, sleep disorders and chronic short sleep are associated with an increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Immune challenges
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Quicker aging

Sleep also reduces stress levels, another way you can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The light in your bedroom, hallway, bathroom or swing-shift work area also impacts your sleep and your health. The research is so sound regarding the negative impact of fluorescent lighting during the night on the human body that the American Medical Association decided to take action. They went so far as to issue a policy statement warning that “nighttime electric light can disrupt circadian rhythms in humans” and that this disruption “affects aspects of physiology with direct links to human health, such as cell cycle regulation, DNA damage response, and metabolism.”

The AMA’s concern was based, in part, on a growing body of new research linking working at night under bright lights with increased risk of breast cancer.

“In a study published in Chronobiology International, researchers from Yale University and the Danish Cancer Society demonstrated that women who worked at night had the same epigenetic changes – biological changes that affect gene expression – previously observed in women with breast cancer. In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared shift work a “probable human carcinogen.”

There’s so much valuable information about the importance of sleep that I am continuing this blog next week with 6 tips on how to get a better night’s rest. So please check back!

Blessings of Vibrant Health,

Kristin Grayce McGary

Health & Lifestyle Alchemist