Wellness Wednesday – The Importance of Sleep with Nurse Lauren
Hi there, Nurse Lauren here with your Wellness Wednesdays tips. I don’t know about you- but between heavy doses of pandemic stress AND working the night shift all last week, a good night’s sleep has not been in the cards for me! Sleeping is key to your health and well-being. Creating healthy sleep habits or sleep hygiene, as it is sometimes called, is an essential part of living a healthy life. Being consistent and creating a relaxing atmosphere are two ways to start ensuring you are getting the sleep you need. Remember to “power down” and avoid electronics for at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.
Adults should get seven hours of sleep a night. Anything less than that is characterized as a “short sleep.”According to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (@CDCgov,) 35% of American adults only short sleep (get less than 7 hours a sleep a night.) This statistic is applies to both men and women. The percentage jumps to 39% for American ages 45 – 54. While these are overall statistics for the entire United States, the percentages do vary from state to state. The highest percentages for adults who only short sleep were found in the southeaster states (Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina) and states along the Appalachian Mountains (West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.) The lowest percentages were found in the Great Plains states (South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa) and the Northwestern states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho.) This map indicates the prevalence of short sleep for adults over the age of 18 by state.
How do I know if I am getting a good sleep? A good night sleep is not just about getting the recommended hours. Although it is a start, the quality of your sleep is also very important. If you are sleeping through the night soundly and waking up feeling rested, then you are getting a good night sleep. The signs that you are not sleeping well are if you still feel tired when you wake up, you snore or gasp for air throughout the night, or you are waking up periodically before your alarm goes off.
How can I improve my sleep habits? Having a consistent bedtime routine is a good place to start. Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time, even on the weekends. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, relaxing, and free from any electronics. Not feeling tired when you go to bed? Try exercising more! This will tire you out. Also, avoid drinking caffeinated drinks after a certain time in the day. Make sure there is time to digest your dinner before you turn in for the night. Even after taking these measures, are you still having trouble sleeping? It may be time to seek out treatment by a specialist with experience in sleep disorders. Insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea are all sleep disorders that should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. For more suggestions, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s Healthy Sleep Tips.
Why is it important to get the recommended hours of sleep per day by age group? Lack of sleep effects your insulin levels and blood pressure. It can also increase inflammation throughout the body, for example, causing a spike in blood pressure in a person with hypertension. Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences that could result in a chronic disease. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression have all been linked to not getting a sufficient amount of sleep.
Don’t forget what breakfast really stands for … breaking the fast! It’s important to eat a healthy breakfast after a good night’s sleep! Check out my tips for beginning your day with breakfast here. And consider joining Sleep Foundations’s (@sleepfoundation) Sleep Awareness week happening March 14 – 20, 2021 for more tips and information about the importance of sleep and how to get more! This is Nurse Lauren, contributor of NursesNOW, signing off with your Wellness Wednesday tips. Follow these tips to live a healthy life free of sleep deprivation!