Developing Healthy Sleeping Habits
Sleep is integral to optimal health. Missing out on sleep can lead to severe health consequences, ultimately causing harm to your physical and mental well-being. As you focus on improving your health in a wellness program, consider your sleeping habits and how improving the quality and quantity of your sleep may influence your daily life.
How Sleep Influences Health
When you miss just one night of sleep, you may feel groggy. Missing several nights of sleep in a short period of time may lead to mood changes, excessive fatigue and decreased cognitive functioning. Regularly skipping out on sleep can cause chronic health concerns to develop.
Poor sleeping habits increase your risk for:
- Obesity: Missed sleep often leads to reduced physical activity and a greater susceptibility to overeat, as calories (especially from sugar and fat) provide added energy for a short period of time.
- Diabetes: One Harvard study found that individuals who regularly sleep less than five hours per night have an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
- Immune function: Sleep deprivation increases inflammation in the body, and this can affect the immune system, increasing your susceptibility to illness.
Mentally, missing out on sleep will decrease your ability to manage stress efficiently and will often cause cognitive fuzziness caused by fatigue. Repeated nights without enough sleep can greatly influence your mood and increase your risk for depression or severe anxiety.
How to Get Better Sleep
When the schedule becomes busy, sleep is the first thing to go. Quality sleep is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle, so it should be a priority in your life.
Making moderate changes to your nighttime routine can improve your sleeping habits. Examples of these changes include:
- Setting a bed time so that your body adjusts to a set time to rest and a set time to wake
- Clear your bedroom of distractions like cellphones or computers, and turn off the television so your mind is not forced to remain alert
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, especially in the afternoon and evening
- Exercise daily, ideally either in the morning or several hours before going to sleep
- Drink water several hours before going to bed so you are hydrated, but do not need to wake to use the bathroom
- Adjust the temperature, purchase a new pillow or put shades on your windows so that you are comfortable as you fall asleep
Making small adjustments can have a significant impact on your ability to sleep. If you do not have trouble falling asleep, but still wake up tired and struggle with excessive daytime fatigue, you may want to speak with Dr. Waller about sleep disorders, like sleep apnea.