Do you ever wake up feeling tired and sluggish for the rest of the day? When I do, I promise myself I will go to bed early but find myself too busy in the evening and staying up again. I end up sleeping less than I should resulting in the opposite of what I really need the next day: a good night’s rest so that I have lots of energy.
An April 9th Time magazine article highlighted the overwhelming evidence of the importance of sleep to every aspect of health. When tired, people are less likely to exercise and consume more caffeine and high-sugar/high-fat foods in an attempt to feel more energetic. Sleeplessness decreases one’s ability to concentrate, making work performance suffer.
New research shows that sleep loss increases hunger and negatively affects metabolism, immune system, and hormone balance. Chronic sleep loss is directly linked to weight gain, heart disease, arrhythmias, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. A recent study published in the medical journal SLEEP found a link between poor sleep quality and both ADHD and cognitive decline in all ages. Another study showed that sleep is essential in early childhood development, learning, and for the formation and retention of memories. Sleep is just as important to your well-being as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Sleep Quantity and Quality Both Matter
The duration of sleep needed differs for each person. Some people require 8 hours each night, while others function well on 6 hours. The quality of sleep, defined as DEEPsleep, is also critical for optimal brain and body functioning. If a man goes to sleep when his body is overtired, he will miss out on critical deep sleep time.
All too often, sleep is sacrificed since the lack of it is not considered life threatening. Over time, though, chronic sleep loss can have serious consequences. The critical piece to improving one’s sleep quality is to recognize what the need is and how to make the effective change. In my life, I have found that by creating a relaxing ritual each evening, I ensure getting enough sleep. Not only do I feel better and more energetic, I feel younger. The next time you are cutting your sleep short, consider how your body may be hurting.
As you think about improving your sleep quality, try to determine realistic and effective changes. Here are some quick tips to improve your sleep:
As with any chronic illness, sleep often requires personalized treatment to best understand its underlying culprit(s). Contact Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D.. to help answer your questions about poor sleep, chronic fatigue, and/or adrenal disorders. Chronic fatigue can be improved through aggressive lifestyle counseling focused on nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress management. Dr. Bhandari is an integrative functional medicine physician who specializes in chronic illness. She can help you define a personalized treatment which will quickly drive positive results, improving your daily and long-term wellness.