Early to Bed and Early to Rise… Will It Really Make You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise?
How often have you found yourself tossing and turning in bed at night, unable to fall asleep? Or perhaps you fall asleep, but you wake up every hour for no particular reason? If this sounds familiar, then you are one of almost 60 million Americans who suffer from chronic disorder of sleep and wakefulness (from The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies). Sleep can be affected by almost anything! Work, stress, indigestion, alcohol, and even strong feelings of happiness, excitement, or depression can throw off your sleep pattern and leave you wide awake in the wee hours of the morning.
Long ago, it was thought that sleep was an insignificant part of the day when our brains were “turned off.” We now know that although our bodies are at rest, parts of our brain are still awake, processing information and refueling for the next day. Getting a good night’s sleep allows your brain to commit things to memory, ensures that your metabolism and hormone levels are adequate, and boosts your overall health and immunity. Sleep is a surprisingly underutilized anti-aging tool, even though it is known to prevent aging because your body is given time to repair damage and rejuvenate.
The Research: Sleep Health and Cognitive Function
The Alzheimer‘s Association recently presented research studies regarding sleep at their annual international convention. Results show that excessive daytime sleepiness and chronic sleep disorders are linked to a greater risk of cognitive decline. The Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women‘s Hospital followed 15,000 females as they aged and found that women who slept less than 5 or more than 9 hours per night scored significantly lower on cognitive tests than women who slept 7 hours per night. The difference between these cognitive test scores equates to roughly two years of aging! Another study showed a two-fold increase in risk of cognitive impairment or dementia in people suffering from sleep-disordered breathing, oxygen desaturation, and apnea.
Improve Your Sleep Health
While the results are quite frightening, no direct causal relationship has been proven by these studies. However, the time lag between the sleep disruptions and clinical symptoms have prompted many researchers and doctors to stress the importance of seeking help. So before you reach for that second cup of coffee at lunch or pop a Benadryl before bed, try these easy steps to promote better sleep health:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Develop a pre-sleep routine such as reading a book or listening to calm music to condition yourself for bedtime
- Make your bedroom a comfortable place just for sleep
- Keep your bedroom temperature 2 degrees lower than other areas
- Exercise regularly
- Be wary of what you put in your body before bedtime and avoid things such as greasy foods, alcohol, or caffeine
- Have a balanced and nutritious diet, focusing on avoiding foods with a high glycemic index
- Reduce stress before bed with meditation and breathing exercises
- Contact Enhanced Medical Care about the integrative diagnostic tests we use to identify sleep disorder causes
Don’t let your sleep problems slip through the cracks. As these studies have shown, it will have a profound effect on your health and wellness, and we want all of our patients to enjoy the benefits that great quality sleep has to offer. Speak to Dr. Costa todayif you have any trouble falling and staying asleep at night or if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Good sleep won’t necessarily make you rich, but seeking help is certainly a wise decision, and it will indeed give you wealth in good health!
To your health!