Canyon Ranch (Arizona)
Do you wake early and go to bed late? If you want to get maximum mileage out of your day, getting an early night may just be the answer. Research shows that, as a nation, sleep is on our minds - and most of us aren't getting enough.
In the U.S., 75% of adults have sleep problems. The consequences of inadequate sleep range from lower levels of functionality, poor memory and increased pain to a statistically higher likelihood of death.
Too little sleep is bad for your health
. People getting six hours versus 8 hours sleep have an average 18% increased risk of heart attack and up to 40% higher mortality rate.
. Habitually getting less than six hours of sleep may double the risk of cardiovascular disease.
. Driving on six hours of sleep causes a similar level of impairment to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05. (Sleepiness leads to more auto accidents than alcohol.)
. Less sleep is related to higher rates of obesity. When you feel exhausted and stressed, you crave more food - that's because five known sleep chemicals are also hunger chemicals.
. A sleepy brain is similar to one with attention deficit disorder.
Sleep is your body's time for repair and growth. It also allows for memory formation and consolidation - not only storing factoids, but making important connections. This memory-organizing stage of sleep - dream sleep - occurs mostly in the second half of the night. Getting less than six and one-half hours sleep eliminates a dream cycle, and with it an opportunity to promote memory and its organization.
Because your body repairs itself during sleep, poor sleep leads to increased pain from fibromyalgia, arthritis or other pain conditions.
Energy drinks will wake you up when you need to be alert, but can be counter-productive if overused: artificially lengthening your day deprives you of many of the benefits of sleep.
The definition of being well rested is not being able to fall asleep in a darkened room at mid-day. Signs that you're not getting enough sleep:
Fall asleep if reading quietly in the afternoon, or watching TV in early evening "Drift off" at meetings Sleep on airplanes or when you're a passenger in a car Need caffeine and open windows to drive two hours Start to snooze while waiting at red lights
Causes of sleeplessness
Sleep apnea: The airways collapse and restrict breathing, often resulting in sudden waking. Sleep apnea poses the same risk as smoking for increased mortality, with a 50% increase in cardiovascular events. Contributing factors include a large neck, a stuffy or narrow nose, recessed chin, genetics and alcohol or sedation. Treatment can include sleeping on your side, treating a stuffy nose, avoiding alcohol at night, wearing a dental device (fitted by an expert) or, in selected cases, surgery.
Insomnia: Common causes include being too hot or sleeping in a room that's too light. Try cooling the room, and install blinds or drapes to make it darker. When it's light, your body says it's time to wake up. Anxiety and depression are common factors in wakefulness. Treatment may help you sleep better while reducing harmful stress.
Be mindful of the effects of caffeine. The biggest culprit for wakefulness, caffeine has a half-life of seven hours - that means if you drink a cup of coffee at 8 a.m., half of the caffeine is still there at 3 p.m., and one quarter at 10 p.m.
Good sleep is the foundation of good health. Try going to bed one hour earlier every night. You'll feel more alert, drive more safely and enjoy more energy - and you'll get more done than if you stayed up an extra hour.
Eliminating that chronic sleep debt is one of the best, most relaxing health investments you can make; because it's true what your doctor says - there's nothing like a good night's sleep.