Monday, September 20, 2010

For Those Who Have Trouble Sleeping - Strategies for Healthy Sleep

Sleep Your Way to a Happier, Healthier, Skinnier You!
by Jackie Kelly, Lifechanging Counseling Marketing Assistant

In today’s day and age, many Americans think sleep is over-rated. When there are deadlines to be met, parties to attend, and late-night TV shows to catch up on, sleep is simply placed on the bottom of the to-do list. While sleep is seen as a way to re-charge for the next day’s busy schedule, making time for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of Zs can be very beneficial to one’s health.

Researchers at the University of Washington found that people who slept a consistent 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night had a trimmer waistline than those who slept less than 7 hours. You read this correctly: sleep can help you be slimmer! Not enough sleep may throw-off hormones in the brain that regulate a person’s appetite. It can change the levels of the hormones that regulate hunger, thus causing an increase in appetite. In addition, higher levels of stress hormones that consequently raise blood pressure have also been associated with lack of sleep.

Another common effect of sleep deprivation is getting sick! Ever notice when your children go back to school, they usually get sick after the first few weeks? They are probably getting less sleep than they did over the summer break. When a person does not have enough sleep, the immune system (the Superman of the body) cannot fight-off disease as easily. When Popeye does not get enough spinach, he simply cannot beat the bad guys. So, feed your body with sleep so it can be your personal superhero and fight off the sniffles.

Now that you are completely motivated to get more sleep, here are four great ways to do just that:

1) Gradually go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.

2) Do not go to bed with the television or computer on—this may distract you from your main focus, which is to fall asleep.

3) Put your pajamas on and dim the lights in your house about one hour before you plan to sleep. This will tell you and your body that it is time to settle down for bed.

4) Meditate or do light stretching. People who relax in the evening fall asleep 30 minutes sooner than those who do not.

So, ladies and gentlemen, break out the pillows and bed sheets and go to sleep already!