Getting your ZZZ's

man sleeping on pillowEating well and exercising are great ways to start on the path to wellness.  Another area of importance that most of us forget to consider is the amount of sleep we get.  Making the choice to get enough sleep is a healthy decision for you and your family.  Sleep not only affects our daily activities, but can have a huge impact on our health.  It is important to consider how much sleep we need as we grow and age, and what types of things we can do to help promote sleep.
Much research has been done on sleep and it’s affect on one’s health.  Scientists have found that insufficient sleep has been linked to many chronic illnesses including: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.  The body heals and regenerates itself while we sleep.  Getting enough rest gives the body the proper time needed to allow these processes to happen.
How much sleep is enough?  The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following guide:


(0-2 months)

12-18 hours


(3-11 months)

14-15 hours


(1-3 years)

12-14 hours


(3-5 years)

11-13 hours


(5-10 years)

10-11 hours



8.5-9.25 hours


7-9 hours

(Taken from the National Sleep Foundation Web site.)

What can you do to help promote a healthy sleep pattern and get the amount of sleep recommended?

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each day.  This habit puts your body into its own rhythm and your body will get used to this pattern.  Once established, you will fall asleep faster and have a more restful sleep.
  2. Exercise!  Most of us don’t exercise because we are too tired.  Food for thought is that we are too tired because we are not exercising.  Exercise improves mood and causes a drop in body temperature which aids in falling asleep.  The key is to participate in cardiovascular exercise but not within 3-6 hours of going to bed.
  3. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and not too hot.  Prepare yourself for bed about an hour before by dimming the lights in your house and creating your own sunset.
  4. Use your bedroom only for sleeping.  Electronic devices such as computers, televisions and radios are stimulus.  They encourage the body to continue using its senses and stimulate the brain to keep working.

As you begin the journey to wellness by eating right and exercising, don’t forget the importance of sleep.  Take the time and make the decision to incorporate quality sleep and make it a priority in your life.  It will leave you feeling rested, energized and ready to take on the world.
National Sleep Foundation

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