The Importance of Sleep

Hi everyone!! I am officially done with grad school!! Well I'm done with the homework part anyways....we're still waiting on those grades though. I'm also getting married in a little less than 2 weeks! Needless to say I've been very busy with working full-time thrown in the mix, so sleep has been a bit of a struggle for the last year. Sleep is such an important part of our lives and affects our health more than we'd like to realize. Being a dietitian I am about all things health related, and lately I have been focusing more on sleep in the sense of how it pertains to weight regulation in my patients. There is a very obvious trend with weight and the amount of sleep an individual gets. But adequate sleep not only affects your weight, but it also affects your focus, mood, and immune system.

I notice about a week before, during, and a week after I travel I have a difficult time sleeping, probably because I'm spending all of my time before and after a trip catching up on homework or wedding planning and so my mind is racing. I probably average 5-6 hours of sleep each night on these occasions...but that's not much different than my 6.5 hours I get on a regular basis. I know that this is not healthy for me so why do I do it? I, like most others, do not seem to have enough time in the day to get my work done, keep house, workout, socialize, relax, etc. so I have to end up staying up late and wake up early to balance it all. I'm hoping now that school is done and the wedding is almost here that I will be able to get at least another hour of sleep. I think that will be my New Years resolution...but it's not going to wait til the new year to start.

To help catch some more z's at night try out some of these tips:

  • Try keeping a regular sleep schedule...meaning go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. This means to try to even on the weekends as hard as that may be.

  • For you coffee/soda/tea drinkers/chocolate lovers out there, don't eat or drink caffeine 4-6 hours before bed. I am very caffeine sensitive so I try to avoid caffeine after lunchtime.

  • Avoid eating heavy meals or drinking alcohol before bed. I make dinner time the last thing I eat for the day and I shoot to have dinner no later than 7:00 PM, which is about 4 hours before I go to bed.

  • Exercising regularly will also help with sleep. Our bodies were created to move and if you don't move your body throughout the day then how can it possibly even be tired enough to sleep?

  • Try to minimize the amount of light, noise, and extreme temperatures when you sleep. I like having circulation and white noise in my room so I run a standing fan to help with this.

  • Avoid screen time no less than 30 minutes before bedtime. This is a hard one for us today with cellphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs in the bedroom. Instead try reading a book or magazine about a half hour before bed to help your mind wind down before bed.

I'm making this my new goal to start getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night, hopefully I will be able to reach 8 hours!

#improveyoursleep #sleep #betteryourhealth #sleeptips #healthyliving

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