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April 2012

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

During Daylight Savings Time, which began on March 11, clocks are turned forward an hour, shifting an hour of light from the morning to the evening.

Feelings about Daylight Savings Time vary, but many of the complaints revolve around concerns about sleep schedules. People who suffer with sleep disorders seem to find these bi-annual transitions difficult. And for some, there are serious negative health effects, particularly in people with certain pre-existing health problems.

As reported recently by WebMD, sleep deprivation is linked to a wide range of health problems, including:

  • Obesity. There is significant evidence that sleep-deprived people consume more calories and higher amounts of fat in their daily diets.
  • Diabetes. One study showed that five hours of sleep per night combined with sedentary lifestyle habits brought people to a pre-diabetic level in a matter of two weeks.
  • Cardiovascular problems. Research has shown that sleeping five hours or less per night is associated with a 39 percent increase in heart disease.
  • Migraines. Lack of sleep has been associated with these headaches and also with chronic pain.
  • Sexual and reproductive problems. Sleep loss can lead to problems with both infertility and erectile dysfunction.
  • Cancer. The link between cancer and sleep loss is still being explored, but there’s evidence to indicate that sleep may play a role.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. For some, this recommendation is easy to maintain, but for many people, it’s a struggle. The cure to sleep difficulties and daytime fatigue can often be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits and day–to–day lifestyle choices make an enormous difference in the quality of your nightly rest.

Here are some tips to help create long-lasting habits that will lead to better sleep:

  • Set a regular bedtime. Wake up at the same time every day.
  • Fight after–dinner drowsiness and stay awake until bedtime.
  • Avoid having lots of drinks or food before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom as sleep-friendly as possible, by keeping it dark, cool, quiet and comfortable.
  • Exercise is a great way to help us relax and get better sleep. However, WHEN we exercise can affect our quality of sleep. Exercising in the morning is best.

For more information on how you and your loved ones can sleep better, these resources are also available.

Sources:

  1. Web MD - http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-hygiene
  2. Health.com - http://www.health.com/health/condition-section/0,,20187915,00.html
  3. Good Housekeeping - http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/sleep-better-tonight

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