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The Why and How of Restorative Sleep

Why you need restorative sleep

Getting enough good quality, restorative sleep is a game changer in your journey to health and wholeness. We live in a sleep deprived world with average hours of sleep falling and physical and mental illnesses on the rise. Here are some critical reasons why restful sleep for at least seven hours per night is essential for good health:

  1. The body repairs and restores damaged tissues and cells during sleep.
  2. Information learned during the day is processed and made permanent during sleep. Therefore, sleep deprivation may place you at risk for poor performance and poor memory.
  3. People who get little sleep are usually slightly more overweight and have shorter lifespans than people who get adequate sleep. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same area in the brain. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you are sleep-deprived, your level of ghrelin goes up and the level of leptin goes down. This then leads to the desire to overeat, and the risk of obesity increases. Studies have shown that dieters who were well rested lost more weight.
  4. Adequate sleep is vital for heart health. Studies have shown that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep at night; this means that lack of adequate amounts of sleep increases your risk of heart attack.
  5. Adequate sleep reduces stress. During sleep, the production of stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) is suppressed. This has a positive effect on blood pressure level, stress and overall cardiovascular health. In contrast, lack of sleep has an adverse effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
  6. Adequate rest improves memory and decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
  7. Finally, getting sufficient sleep ensures you feel energized and have the mental clarity to achieve your goals.

Keys to a good night’s rest

  1. ROUTINE

Strive to go to bed about the same time very night. This time should ensure that you get a minimum of seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep each night.

Be in bed at least two hours before midnight. The benefits from growth hormone and tissue repair surge at about 10 each night

Precede your bedtime with the same signals. For example, you could take a shower, read a book, lower the lights and put on some relaxing music. This will signal to the body that is it time for sleep.

Aim to get up at the same time each morning. Start your day feeling rested and energized to face the challenges of a new day.

 

  1. MINDSET

A healthy frame of mind is essential for a restorative night of sleeping. Here are some practical ways to ensure you are in the best mindset for sleep.

If you are one of those persons who lay awake at night thinking about what you have to get done tomorrow, keep a notebook by your bed and write things out. Dumping your thoughts can help them stop circling and enable you to relax and fall asleep.

If you are dealing with challenges and need help, seek a counselor.

Develop a forgiving spirit. Do this for you. Laying in bed ruminating on what has gone wrong in your life only hurts you more.

Reflect on the positives of your day and be optimistic about tomorrow as you fall asleep.

End your day in meditation or prayer. Giving your mind something to focus on is a great way to prevent anxious or depressing thoughts from running wild. Committing your problems into the hands of God before going to sleep will help reassure you and promote relaxation.

 

  1. DARKNESS

Sleep in darkness. Research has shown that sleeping in a dark room will increase melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that promotes drowsiness and may increase your quality of sleep.

 

  1. ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS

Turn off the television and put away electronics around an hour before bedtime.

Keep your bedroom well ventilated and comfortable so there is nothing to distract you from falling asleep.

Avoid physical exercise just before bedtime. This will increase energy and may delay the onset of sleep.

 

  1. EMPTY STOMACH

Refrain from eating or drinking four to five hours before bedtime. This includes coffee which is a stimulant and will decrease your ability to fall asleep.

 

The Cooper Wellness & Disease Prevention Center is also here to support your wellness journey. Feel free to contact us at 956-627-3106 or go to www.cooperwellnesscenter.com to find out more about our wellness coaching programs.

To your health

Dona Cooper-Dockery, M.D.

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