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The Importance of Sleep

sleepFor most of us, a good night’s sleep means getting about 7-9 hours to be truly rested the next day. Getting adequate sleep helps maintain good health by healing and repairing your body while at rest. If your sleep is interrupted or cut short, your body won’t have time to complete all the phases of sleep needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. According to Harvard Medical School, one-third of working Americans are sleep deprived, meaning they are waking up less prepared to concentrate, make decision, and fully engage in productive activities.

According to a new sleep survey, 91% of respondents reported either always or sometimes waking up in the middle of the night. Why people may have trouble falling and staying asleep is based on a myriad of factors. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said they believe they are not sleeping because of temperature-related issues, but stress levels are also a main contributor as most survey respondents attributed symptoms of stress (irritability, poor eating habits, and forgetfulness) to their lack of sleep.

There are several exercises you can try to lower your stress level for a better night’s sleep.

Practice your breathing

Breathing exercises can help slow down a hectic lifestyle. In all of one minute, you should feel calmer and sleepier if you try these before bed. The simplest breathing exercise can be done by sitting cross-legged or comfortably on a soft surface, inhale deeply and hold your breath for about 7 seconds, and then take a long time to exhale. Try this for 10 rounds and see if you feel more relaxed and ready for bed.

Stretch to relieve tension

Release tension held in your chest by standing in a doorway and pushing your arms into the frame. Place your palms to face outward and step forward 1-2 feet to create a deeper opening in the chest. Be aware of your breath to stay mindful, calm, and relaxed.

Maintain a solid routine

Having an evening routine helps your body maintain a natural rhythm of when you are ready for sleep. What is known as your “circadian rhythm” is the natural timing of sleep your body has which is based on light, daily patterns, and the release of melatonin. If you wind down and get to sleep at the same time each night, you are initiating a biological sleep pattern.

Keep your bed for sleep only

Bright lights from computers and mobile devices can suppress the release of melatonin, which means watching TV or reading in bed could be affecting your sleep quality. Help your body and mind associate being in bed with calm, restful sleep and not work, emails, or the storylines from your favorite shows.

Have you been getting enough sleep? Are colder temperatures or holiday stress affecting your sleeping patterns? Share how much sleep you need versus how much you actually get on Facebook.