August 11th, 2022
Why your body needs sleep and how to improve it
By: Tammy Love, FNP-C, CCSH
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get seven or more hours of sleep per night for their health and well-being. Sleep is not only meant to help you feel rested, but it is also a time for your body to reset.
As you sleep, your body conserves energy leaving you feeling refreshed when you awake, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t continuing to perform essential bodily functions. Throughout the night, your body works to restore the brain, repair damaged tissues, store memories and consolidate learning. Several of the hormones that regulate body functions are also synthesized as you rest.
Knowing the importance of sleep can help to make it a priority. In the busy culture we currently live in, it can be hard to justify taking the time to unwind and allow the body to take the rest it needs. Trying these tips may help you do so:
- Set a bedtime and a wake time and stick to it, even on the weekends.
- Watch what you eat and drink, avoid large meals before bed and limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Be mindful of your environment. Your bedroom should be cool and dark. Avoid non-sleep activities in bed such as watching TV or using cell phones and tablets.
- Stay active throughout your day.
- Reduce your worries and stress by journaling, organizing, making to-do lists, setting priorities, or meditating.
Some people may still have a hard time falling and staying asleep even after trying these techniques. This may be caused by a chronic disease that may interfere with good quality sleep such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, arthritis, heart failure, cancer, reflux disease and chronic pain. Psychological disorders like Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can also contribute to poor sleep.
If you experience sleep problems for more than three months, it is recommended that you see a sleep specialist. A sleep specialist can help diagnose and treat sleep disorders like chronic insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, restless legs at bedtime, or sleeping too much. You may need to see one sooner if the lack of sleep begins to affect your daily life. It is also important to express any concerns you may have about your sleep patterns to your primary care provider as they can help guide you to solutions, such as seeing a sleep specialist, for a better night’s sleep.
Ensuring you get enough sleep should be just as high of a priority as taking care of your physical and mental health. Without it, your body won’t have the proper time it needs to recharge before the next day’s activities.
Tammy Love, FNP-C, CCSH, specializes in cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia and is certified in clinical sleep health at Pinehurst Medical Clinic.