Sleep. We all love it. We all need it. In the past two years, sleep has been a huge part of my life. When I was pregnant with my twins (who are now 2.5), I tried to get as much sleep and rest as possible even though I knew there wasn’t a way to bank sleep. When they were born, I didn’t sleep at all. I was nursing both of them and they were on different sleep schedules. I was sleeping maybe 2 hours a night and during the day, I was a person that wasn’t that great. I snapped at my husband a lot and wasn’t happy. I was so exhausted that I broke out in hives and went to see my doctor. Her prescription? I needed SLEEP! Sleep is such an important part of your health and after that, my husband and I got serious about a sleep schedule for all of us. Now, we are all part of a happier household.
I take my sleep much more serious these days. At the end of the day, if I’m tired but I still have a lot of dishes to do or laundry to catch up on, I will just leave it. (GASP!) A happier mama is much more important to me than a tired and grumpy mama. I’m going to bet that you’re not getting as much sleep as you should. Even after the girls were born and I was getting more sleep, I was happy with 5 or 6 hour straight. But, you really need seven or more hours of sleep per night to avoid the health risks of chronic inadequate sleep. This is a new recommendation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society and I, for one am going to listen to them!
“Sleep is critical to health, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise,” said Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, incoming AASM president and Consensus Panel moderator. “Our Consensus Panel found that sleeping six or fewer hours per night is inadequate to sustain health and safety in adults, and agreed that seven or more hours of sleep per night is recommended for all healthy adults.”
“More than a third of the population is not getting enough sleep, so the focus needs to be on achieving the recommended minimum hours of nightly sleep,” said Watson. “Long sleep duration is more likely to reflect chronic illness than to cause it, and few experimental laboratory studies have examined the health effects of long sleep duration.”
Check out these healthy sleep tips to get back on track:
- Don’t drink coffee after lunch – it can lead to tossing and turning all night.
- Don’t stay up late working on the computer – it prevents us from being able to “wind down” and fall asleep.
- Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- Don’t read, write, eat or watch TV in bed.
- Do try and keep a regular sleep schedule, as you would for your child.
- Do make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
- An easy way to remember this: it should remind you of a cave.
- Do begin rituals that help you relax each night before bed.
- Read a book (but not in bed).
- Draw a warm bath.
- Enjoy a light snack.
The benefits of healthy sleep require not only adequate sleep duration, but also appropriate timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality, and the absence of sleep disorders. Individuals who have or suspect they have sleep disorders should consult with a doctor. To find a local sleep specialist at an accredited sleep center, visit www.sleepeducation.org.
Want to learn even more about sleep? On Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m. CT, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine will host a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with AASM President Dr. Nathaniel Watson. Make sure you sign up for a Reddit account to participate: https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/
Thanks to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, one lucky reader will win a $50 Gift Card!
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