Life in 2019 is no joke. Our plates are filled to the max and they just keep getting fuller. It doesn’t help that you scroll social medial and see Cynthia baking homemade muffins and making organic baby food while also working full time and juggling 2 kids. Or Brad who travels for work 4 days a week and still manages to spend an hour or two in the gym every day and post about his homemade protein smoothies. We play the comparison game and always feel like we need to do just a little more to meet the expectations of society.
In the process, we’re killing ourselves.
The average American sleeps 6.8 hours a night – that’s 15% less than we’re supposed to be getting. Sure, once and a while that’s no big deal, but every week you miss out on A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP! Can you believe that? It’s like you pulled a 40 hour day. While I know many of you have never done this, but I have and it’s not good. You brain is literally a fog and your reaction times are ridiculously slow. It’s dangerous for you and everyone around you. And it takes a few days before you feel normal again. So most Americans are walking around with countless nights of sleep debt that just keep growing.
So what’s the big deal? Not getting enough sleep is linked with basically every health condition you try to avoid. One of the biggest problems is that is disrupts our leptin and ghrelin levels so we can’t regular hunger and satiety correctly. Our bodies think we are in a state of starvation, making weight gain inevitable and weight loss impossible. We preform poorly on daily tasks and don’t have the energy to exercise if we try. There are mood disturbances and changes in most all of our metabolic parameters which can lead to stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Here’s a fun (if you’re a nerd like me) map with sleep stats by state – https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/publications/factsheets.html
Here are tips for getting better sleep each night by sleepeducation.org:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
- Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
Many Americans have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. These can be diagnosed by your primary care doctor or a pulmonologist. Think you might have a sleep disorder? Read about them here – http://sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders-by-category
If you snore or have daytime drowsiness, please read this questionnaire called STOP-BANG (http://bit.ly/2Z3g36Y). If you score >2 you should print out the questionnaire and bring it to an appointment with your doctor to discuss the results further.
How many hours of sleep do you get a night? What habits have led to better sleep? What challenges do you have to getting a good night sleep?