May Is Better Sleep Month

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Why have an entire month dedicated to sleep, you may ask?  Getting good sleep is one of the most important things we can do to help ensure we are living a healthy lifestyle.
While we sleep our body takes the time to re-boot and heal while our brain runs through the day and stores our memories, similar to backing a computer up to a hard drive. Although no studies show the exact scientific reason why we need sleep, there are countless studies that show the negative impacts of little or low-quality sleep. Without sleep we become forgetful, cranky, and even lose control of our motor skills. Studies show that not receiving adequate sleep is similar to being drunk.

According to research by the The Better Sleep Council, half of American adults admit they are sleep deprived. Millions of dollars are spent each year by people at sleep clinics and on prescriptions to help them sleep better. Some of the diagnoses, such as sleep apnea, are easy to remedy, while some are much more complicated. Hopefully, you or your loved ones do not have to deal with these types of more serious sleep issues. But you should still take the time to acknowledge how important sleep is and make sure you take a few simple steps to ensure you are getting the proper quantity of “good sleep.”

First of all, you should think back to the last time you bought a new mattress  . . . Was it more than 8 years ago? If so, it’s time to get out there and start shopping for a new one. Experts recommend getting a new mattress every 7-10 years. Granted, the warranties on most mattresses may last from 10-25 years but the material still becomes worn, and although not faulty, it may not be supporting you as well as it did a few years ago. Also, if you aren’t using mattress protectors, you have collected all those years of sweat and skin dander—not to mention all the dust mites that love to to hang out in that environment. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in . . .Ready for a new mattress yet? If so, here are some tips for how to shop for a new one. http://glideaway.com/sleep-info/sleep-product-purchasing-guide/

Now that we have made sure you are sleeping on a good mattress (and pillow!) let’s touch on a few other things:
• Power down before you go to sleep—literally. Smartphones and tablets are not only a distraction but emit enough light to disrupt your sleep and often represent a source of stress that you shouldn’t take to bed with you.
• Create healthy sleep habits, especially a consistent bedtime and wake up time. 78% of Americans do not not participate in this habit, but almost all them know they should.
• Eliminate physical and mental stimulants at least an hour before bed. Once again, turn off the TV and cell phone. But also late night caffeine, alcohol, bright lights and exercise can prevent quality sleep.
The Better Sleep Council has launched a campaign against sleep loss called “Sleepocalyps”. They are reaching out to consumers, spreading the message that even though most Americans know what good sleep habits we should act on, the majority choose not to. In short, just because you wish you would get better sleep, that doesn’t mean it will just happen. You have to make an effort—but trust me, once you get a full night’s of uninterrupted quality sleep it will be oh-so-worth-it.

If you would like to learn more about quality sleep and how to get some, visit the The Better Sleep Council’s web site.

Here are some other interesting articles and sources about sleep:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/ncsdr/index.htm

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/05/sleep/max-text

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/

 

by Angela Chism
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