Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to chronic disease. Try these tips to help ensure a good night's rest.

Sleep…most of us are not getting enough of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of adults in the United States and nearly forty percent living in Michigan, report they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. 

Fatigue, inability to concentrate and irritability are common symptoms associated with lack of sleep, but did you know that not getting enough sleep contributes to many chronic diseases and conditions such as chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease obesity and depression? Poor sleep is also linked to motor vehicle crashes and machinery-related injuries.    

According to “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” by Kate Lorig, sleep is a basic need just like food and water. Good quality sleep not only helps you feel rested, refreshed and ready to face the day, it also helps heal and repair muscles and tissues and provides energy to your vital organs, including the brain.

How much sleep do you need? 

The amount of sleep needed varies with age, but adults should try to get seven or more hours per day.  Living A Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions provides the following self-management techniques that might help improve sleep quality:

  • Develop a regular routine rest and sleep schedule.
  • Get a comfortable bed. 
  • Warm your hands and feet.
  • Find a comfortable sleeping position.
  • Elevate the head of your bed to make breathing easier.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Use a vaporizer if you live where the air is dry.
  • Make your bedroom safe and comfortable.

It is also important, late in the day, to avoid eating and drinking caffeine or alcohol. Smoking (to help you sleep), taking pills such as diet and/or diuretics and screen time should also be avoided before bedtime.

If you are experiencing sleep problems Michigan State University Extension recommends consulting a healthcare provider. Before visiting your physician, consider keeping a sleep diary. Record when you go to bed, sleep, wake up and get out of bed. It’s also helpful to keep track of naps, exercise and when alcohol and/or caffeinated beverages are consumed.        

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