Losing sleep over something?
Sleep is completely undervalued! We need, want, and appreciate sleep. Yet on the contrary, many of us behave as though sleep is overrated! The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between 18-64 years old receive 7 to 9 hours sleep each night. And adults over 65 years should obtain 7 to 8 hours nightly. Despite this advice, 45% of Australians fail in attaining the recommended hours of sleep. We need sleep for health! How can you improve the quality and health of your sleep?
Wake up on the right side of the bed
Before we contemplate how to improve your sleep quality, let us consider some of the numerous benefits of adequate sleep. Briefly, when you have efficient sleep, your body and mind will function better and feel better. Additionally, you will have more energy! Research shows that when you obtain adequate sleep, you typically have sharper concentration and memory, better weight control, more easily maintained blood glucose levels, increased feelings of energy, better work performance and productivity. We know these outcomes from studies that first deprive willing participants of sleep, and then compare how they or others function with adequate sleep.
Burning the candle at both ends?
In general, studies show that inferior sleep quality and minimal sleep lead to poor regulation of body weight. There is much greater risk of weight gain with minimal sleep — in part, because of more post-dinner snacking on poor quality foods. In addition, poor sleep quality may predispose people to obesity and diabetes, due to a reduction in the body’s ability to tolerate glucose.
Aim to sleep like a log
But of course, sleep is multidimensional: this means there are many aspects of sleep that can determine sleep health. So, what is most important to predisposing you or protecting you from regulating your weight and your general metabolic health? Some of these factors include timing and regularity of sleep, sleep efficiency and sleep quality.
A recent study reported an association with poor sleep health and a reduced ability to lose weight and fat. Conversely, the study also found that early sleep timing, better sleep efficiency, high sleep satisfaction and more regularity in waketime, all correlated with greater weight and fat loss. The end message is that people who have better sleep health (especially more regular patterns and timing) can lose more weight than people with poorer sleep health. So, once again, sleep health really matters, and the science is supportive.
How do you improve your sleep?
Following, are several tips on how to improve your sleep health
- Exercise on a regular basis: Many studies and surveys show that one of the well-known benefits of exercise is better quality sleep. Here are some MyAge.Fit Challenges (also below) to help you keep the habit of exercise.
- Minimize caffeine and alcohol intake which can stimulate or depress the central nervous system and interfere with sleep quality.
- Create a regular routine of sleep which includes when you go to sleep and when you wake. Try and set a time for bed and waking that does not vary a lot. Sometimes you just need to make the decision to go to bed.
- Manage your light exposure. Keeping lights dim in the evening helps promote sleep. In addition, whether use of electronic devices in the evening will disturb your sleep is still open for debate. Limiting screen time, however, just before bed is probably sensible.
- Control your sleep environment by keeping the temperature reasonable (not too hot or cold), shades to block early morning light, a comfortable mattress and low outside noise (white noise machines can help).
- Monitor your sleep activities. Fitness trackers or watches typically record data relevant to your sleep patterns. This is helpful for establishing a baseline about your sleep and developing goals for improvement.
To help you be active and improve your sleep health, try some of our exercise challenges.
Challenge 1 7-Day strength-based exercises
Challenge 2 7-Day strength-based exercises
Challenge 3 6 Week aerobic exercise – running
Challenge 4 6 Week aerobic exercise – walking
Challenge 5 7-Day strength-based exercises
Challenge 6 7-Day strength-based exercises
Challenge 7 7-Day strength-based exercises
Challenge 8 7-Day strength and aerobic exercises