National Sleep Awareness Month is observed in March annually. This is a great opportunity to stop and think about your sleep habits and how to improve them. Also, the second Sunday in March is Daylight Savings where we get to “spring ahead” and advance our clocks one hour. “Spring ahead” and “fall back” may affect you more than you know, so it is important to be aware of your sleep and your health.
How have you been sleeping lately? How much sleep are you getting? What is the quality of your sleep? How is your sleep, or lack of, impacting your well-being?
Getting enough quality sleep is not a luxury. It is something you must prioritize to care for your body.
Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night and getting less may pose serious consequences to your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers insufficient sleep a public health epidemic because there is an increased risk for developing other health concerns if you are not getting the sleep your body needs.
Not getting enough sleep is linked to many chronic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Poor sleep can lead to vehicle crashes and mistakes at work, such as injury. According to the CDC, people who reported sleeping six hours or less per night were significantly more likely to fall asleep while driving than those who reported sleeping seven to nine hours nightly.
Benefits of Healthy Sleep
What Happens During Sleep
Sleep is not just a time for you to rest, it is a productive process for your body. About every 90 minutes, your body alternates through a pattern of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. It repeats that cycle, while your body is working to restore energy, remove waste products from cells, grow and repair tissues, increase blood supply to muscles, and produce and release hormones. When you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your body cannot effectively repair itself, and that is when health conditions arise.
If you feel like sleep is impacting your health in a negative way, try tracking your sleep to see the trends that can be improved. Seeing your trends on paper can be a powerful way to make incremental changes for your health. Here are some items related to your sleep to track for 7-21 days:
Complete in Morning
Complete at the End of the Day
If you are still having trouble sleeping, speak with your doctor or find a sleep professional.