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Sleep: Quality and Quantity

How is your sleep quality and quantity?

Many of our members had a hard time with the bingo square labeled "3 x in one week of 7+ hrs sleep". The recommendation for sleep is currently 7-9 hours/night, and around 1/3 of adults do not regularly meet it. Even those who may get 8 hours a night but do not sleep well can suffer from sleep insufficiency. The sweet spot is quality and quantity. 

The primary signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation include excessive daytime sleepiness and daytime impairment such as reduced concentration, slower thinking, and mood changes. Other side effects include reduced attention span, worsened memory, poor or risky decision-making, lack of energy, and weakened immunity. Symptoms can change depending on if the person is experiencing acute or chronic lack of sleep. Sleep plays a fundamental role in the effective functioning of nearly all systems of the body , so a persistent lack of sleep creates significant risks to physical and mental health. It increases risks of cardiovascular disease (and high blood pressure), diabetes, obesity, immunodeficiency, hormone abnormalities (and low sex drive), pain, mental health disorders, greater overall risk of death, and lower quality of life. Yikes!

Multiple factors can cause or contribute to sleep deprivation including poor sleep hygiene, lifestyle choices, work obligations, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions. You can improve your sleep quality by working on your habits and sleep hygiene. Try working on one or two things at a time and slowly build better sleep habits for lasting change. Once you've nailed one habit, try add in another.

1- Keep a consistent sleep schedule - while a weekend sleep in can seem tempting, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day can really help your body prepare for sleep. 

2 - Have a bed time routine - performing the same acts before bed - a warm bath/hot shower, a cup of tea, reading a book, a few mindful stretches - whatever helps set the tone for you, can be very helpful at cuing the body for sleep.

3- Keep your room dark and cool - This creates an ideal environment for high quality sleep.

4- Avoid doing other activities in the room you use for sleeping - try create a sleep sanctuary. This means no tv's in the room (which emit sleep harming blue light)

5 - Avoid stimulants/sleep disrupter - establish your caffeine cut off time and stick to it (typically around noon). Avoid or limit alcohol as it is a big sleep cycle disrupter and can reduce sleep quality. 

6- Avoid napping longer than 30 minutes and altogether in the later afternoon or later. 

7- Try get sunlight exposure during the morning - this helps set your circadian rhythm.

8- Avoid heavy meals before bed - this can cause discomfort and make falling asleep harder.

9- Exercise regularly - as if you needed another reason... just ideally not right before bed.

10 - And of course - Avoid technology and any stress producing activities before bed (like work!) Create boundaries and stick to them. 

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