FitFactor: Six Steps to Sleeping Well

When it comes to health and lifestyles, many of us do not put sleep at the top of our priority list. We may not realize the numerous benefits that sleep has on our bodies and minds. Not only does it give us the rest we need to replace the energy expended from the day but it also keeps our mindsFF_sleep_facts.jpg alert and ready to process new information. Certainly, we have all experienced the immediate costs of a night of poor sleep, such as fatigue, irritability and lack of concentration. However, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School suggests that there are long term health consequences associated with inadequate sleep (particularly on a regular basis), including chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Additionally, studies have shown that there is a connection between insufficient sleep and weight gain. When we sleep, our bodies release hormones that control appetite and improve metabolism. This is especially important to note for people with bleeding disorders because healthier bodies bleed less. Getting a good night sleep improves our emotional health, our ability to focus and learn, and physically keeps us functioning at our best.

The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is 7 to 9 hours but that can vary based on sleep quality, sleep deprivation, aging and other individual circumstances. These days, there are so many factors that can impact your sleep without you even recognizing it. Here are a few tips that can help you sleep well consistently.

  1. Turn off electronics like phones, tablets and TVs. Notifications from your phone and the bright light of a TV can hinder you from falling into a deep sleep.
  2. Stick to a sleep cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time if possible.  Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep wake cycle and encourages a better sleep at night.
  3. Watch what you drink and eat at night. Alcohol and caffeine can derail your body from getting a good sleep so be cognizant of how much and how late you are drinking. The discomfort from going to be stuffed or hungry can keep you from falling asleep.
  4. Keep your room quiet and dark. Draw your blinds and close your windows to keep yourself from being awakened by noise or bright lights.
  5. Calm your mind. Stress can make it very difficult to sleep well. If you find yourself fixated on something, get up and write your ideas down or read to quiet your mind.
  6. Get your daily exercise. Physical activity helps you fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful sleep.