As we move through the next stages of the pandemic — hopefully soon to some kind of new normal — one of the things many folks struggle with is getting their sleep back on track.
The past year has given us lots of excuses reasons to lose sleep. It’s time to start talking to our inner 4 year old, and reseting our rest, because sleep is fundamental for our health.
Why sleep matters:
- Sleep turns on the immune system. (PMID: 22071480)
- Sleep helps you burn fat instead of muscle. (PMID: 20921542)
- Sleep helps you fight food cravings — and obesity. (PMID: 23922121 and 30893841.)
- Poor sleep makes you depressed and anxious, although anxiety and depression can also lead to poor sleep. (PMID: 25685384)
- Too little sleep in midlife is now officially linked to dementia later on. (PMID: 33879784)
And yet, it’s something so many of us struggle with — to get enough sleep, to get good quality sleep, to wake feeling energized and excited about our day.
How much sleep do you need?
The official minimum for adults is 7 hours [PMID: 26039963, 30568521]. Anything less and our reaction time and mental processes dull — to the same degree as being legally drunk. I routinely refer patients to this article from the New York Times for an overview.
Can’t you just catch up over the weekend? Nope. Sleep deficits add up over time, as this article explains. Here’s another from Harvard University.
How to sleep better
In May I did a special webinar on this subject with an emphasis on sleep during the long daylight hours of summer. The basics are true year ’round, even in places where daylight hours don’t have much seasonal variation.
If you’d like to catch the recording, you can sign up for it here. (Or grab my free Sound Sleep Cheat Sheet.)
Some aspects of sleep are simple, like keeping a good sleep routine and practicing basic sleep hygiene. But if those things aren’t helping you get good rest, it’s good to talk to a professional. If you’re in Oregon (or, soon, Alaska) you can make an appointment with me here.
Photo by Igordoon Primus via Unsplash.