What's the secret? Sleep.
According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders may impact up to 70 million Americans (almost a 1/4 of the population) and cost up to $16 billion in healthcare costs and $60 billion in lost productivity.
Are you one of those people who faces the challenge of falling asleep or staying asleep several times a week? Have you tried everything? Well, even if you think you have tried everything, perhaps you may want to keep reading this post to see what strategies you may be missing. If you try these strategies and still have trouble sleeping then you should discuss this with your primary care provider to make sure there are not biological reasons, and not just behavioral reasons, for your sleep problem.
Good sleep is as essential for health as is good nutrition and physical activity. Getting good sleep means going to bed when you are tired, falling asleep within 15-30 minutes, staying asleep for 6-8 hours, and waking up feeling rested. Good sleep improves mental clarity which makes you much less susceptible to accidents, improves your judgement, and keeps your memory sharp.
Organs function better with sleep so you are at lower risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other illness. Good sleep also gives your immune system some fighting power so you resist common infections like a cold or the flu. And sleep puts you at lower risk for depression and other mood disorders. And best of all, good sleep may keep you slender and keep you looking younger. You ever notice how much older you look when you wake up from a night of lousy sleep? "You look tired", is considered to be an insult because of what it reflects about how old we are looking that day.
Sleep and Mental Health
Sleep has been the bane of my existence ever since I was a child and I have spent a lot of my life trying to sleep when my body has other ideas; an annoying side effect of having manic depression. I have spent a lot of time researching sleep and trying strategies that work. Sleep behaviors are on the list of symptoms for both depression and mania. Lack of sleep triggers symptoms of mental illnesses and makes existing symptoms worse so getting enough sleep is very important to the mental health of someone living with any mental disorder such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
The latest research suggests that a sleep routine that keeps our circadian rhythms (internal clock) on a regular schedule, also keeps the mind on an even keel. Lack of sleep makes people more susceptible to illness and more prone to cause intentional and non-intentional injuries. Driving sleepy is just as dangerous as driving drunk. Anyone who has ever had a late night out knows how hard it is for the brain to work the next day.
Tips for A Good Night's Sleep
When you can't sleep it can be very frustrating. You toss, turn, get up, lie down and stare at the ceiling knowing you are going to wake up tired and functioning at less than your best. By developing a sleep routine; and at a minimum your sleep routine should include the following:
Want to Know More?
If you want to know more about sleep and mental well-being and find evidence-based strategies for improving sleep, then check out a new publication by the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, which has published a free downloadable book on sleep called, 'Sleep Matters: The Impact of Sleep on Health and Well-Being'. The National Institutes of Health also publishes a sleep guide called, 'Your Guide to Healthy Sleep' is available free. For more information on circadian rhythms: Inside LIfe Science: How our bodies keep time.
If after trying these simple steps, you still have trouble sleeping then see your medical provider or contact a sleep clinic.