Losing sleep is bad for body, mind

First Posted: 12/10/2013

Years ago I heard Dr. Oz say you can die quicker from a lack of sleep than from a lack of food. I often repeat that to others — mostly because I know how important sleep is to our overall health and I’m trying to make a point. But if I’m going to be honest, I think both I and Dr. Oz are stretching the truth a bit.

The “lack of sleep” would need to be a total lack of sleep. Even under those conditions, what you might actually die from are things you do in that state; there’s a good chance you can pass out and crack your head open. Blood and gore aside, any amount of sleep deprivation isn’t good for your physical or mental health.

Why do most people have trouble sleeping? They may have issues at home or at work, or like 40 million Americans, suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea.

If it’s the last two, it is important to speak with your primary health-care provider. If it’s your home-life or work, then you need to work out a schedule to get the proper amount of sleep each night. Sleep is just as important as eating well and exercising. Here are some tips to help you get the seven to eight hours you need:

— Unwind before bedtime. Instead of watching TV, try reading a book — in fact, try to avoid all electronics.

— Take a hot bath. The hot water will help you relax and the increase in body temperature may help you fall asleep.

— Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day. This will help your body get into a sleep rhythm.

— Avoid fluids before bedtime. Fluid intake increases your chances of waking up during the night.

— Avoid sugar before bedtime. High blood sugar can cause insomnia. A high-protein snack a few hours before bedtime may help you sleep. Avoid foods to which you are sensitive; digestive problems often interrupt sleep.

— Listen to “white noise” in your bedroom like the soothing sound of a fan, air purifier or noise machine.

— Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the best treatments for insomnia — just don’t do it right before you plan on sleeping.

— Avoid alcohol before bedtime. While it may help you pass out, alcohol deprives you of deep, restorative sleep, which helps keep our immune systems working.

— Avoid caffeine and nicotine which are both stimulants.

— Lose weight. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea.

— Maintain a cool temperature in your room.

— Sleep in total darkness. Even a small amount of light can disrupt your sleep.

— Invest in a comfortable mattress.

It is safe to say a lot of you probably feel like you just can’t find the time to get enough sleep, but like any part of a healthy living program — whether it’s your daily exercises or proper nutrition — you have to work hard at it to be successful. The more sleep you get, the more successful the rest (no pun intended) of your program will become.

Mike DeCinti is the marketing director for Lumberton Drug. He can be reached at mike.decinti@lumbertondrug.com

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