Get Your Zzzs: The Importance of Sleep

Seniors SleepingNearly half of all Americans reported having difficulty sleeping. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that about 35 percent of people surveyed in 12 states said they slept less than 7 hours a night on average.

A national survey reported that, 23 percent had trouble concentrating because they were tired, 18 percent had trouble remembering things and 11 percent had difficulty commuting or driving. In addition, 48 percent said they snored, 38 percent admitted to unintentionally falling asleep during the day and almost 5 percent reported falling asleep or nodding off while driving over the prior 30 days!

“Insufficient sleep will make it difficult to function and can reduce the benefit of hormones released during sleep,” say co-authors Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, of the new book, TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (BSH, 2011). “Some consider it a badge of honor to get by on as little sleep as possible. This is a big mistake. Most of us require at least 8 for optimal function and health.

In their book, the Griesels remind us that for tens-of-thousands of years before the introduction of electricity and light bulbs, people rose and set along with the sun. This seems to be the natural rhythm we were designed to follow. Late night TV, stimulants, and meals have disrupted this cycle along with work schedules and the proliferation of ambient light all throw off our natural circadian rhythms. This disrupts the normal production of melatonin, which is our natural sleep hormone.

It’s best for our bodies to cycle through the five known sleep stages four or five times a night. The first four stages are key to maintaining healthy metabolism, learning, and memory. The fifth, rapid eye movement sleep (REM) is important for regulating mood and forming emotional memories. Regularly missing a cycle or two and your brain function, immune system, and heart health will suffer.

How to Improve Your Sleep Time

You can take the following steps to improve your sleep time:

  • Exercise regularly but at least 3 hours before bedtime. An evening walk is best.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine like reading, taking a bath, or relaxing in a hot tub. No TV.
  • Have a cup of chamomile tea an hour before bedtime.
  • Get to bed at a regular time to ensure at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable.

For more information about the book and authors Dian and Tom Griesel, please visit: www.turbocharged.us.com.

What tricks or habits do you have for getting a good night’s sleep?