Sleep and Your Health

Good's as important to your health as diet and exercise!

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most vital things you can do to optimize your health, lose weight, reduce stress, increase productivity, and meet your fitness goals. Here are some facts about sleep and its relationship to fitness that you may not be aware of:

  • insufficient sleep increases obesity risk by 89% in children and 55% in adults
  • less than 7–8 hours per night increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes

iStock-643310502The largest sleep study ever—conducted on 1.1 million people—shows that it is the quality, not quantity, of sleep that matters most. Poor sleep negatively affects your hormones, memory/ cognitive ability, risk of disease, exercise performance, brain function, and also contributes to weight gain.

Addressing the real cause of what is interfering with your body’s ability to repair is the only way to true healing. Could stress and anxiety cause you to have trouble sleeping? Are you eating too late at night? Are you using technology too close to bedtime?

Here are Some Simple Reminders to Help Achieve Deep, Restful Sleep:

  • Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. A study of the elderly found that exercise nearly halved the time it took to fall asleep and helped them sleep 41 minutes longer at night. In insomnia patients with severe cases, exercise provided more benefits than most drugs. Exercise can include fitness classes, a walk in the park, personal training, sports participation, and so much more! Daily exercise is key for a good night's sleep; however, scheduling your workout for too late in the day can also cause problems falling asleep. This is due to its stimulatory effect, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine or adrenaline.
  • Follow Your Circadian Rhythm. Your body’s natural internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is important! Our bodies align themselves with the sunrise and the sunset. Getting daily natural sunlight or bright light exposure during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid in sleep quality, too.
  • Get to Bed On-Time!  You should try to be asleep no later than 10:30 pm so that you are following your natural circadian rhythm. If you miss the timing of your circadian rhythm, you will have a hard time falling asleep. Much of your most reparative sleep occurs between 9pm-12pm. However, depending on your work and life schedule, you can adjust your sleep pattern and your circadian rhythm will change accordingly. It is most important that you try to be consistent, going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.
  • Optimize Your Bedroom Environment. Light and noise pollution can disrupt your ability to sleep. Where you sleep, should be pitch black and free of external sounds. Night time light exposure tells your body it is still daytime and reduces hormones, like melatonin, that help you relax and get good sleep. Blue light from electronic devices is one of the worst for disrupting sleep and should be turned off (along with your T.V.) at least 2 hrs before bed. Block out all sources of light, even tiny LED lights should be covered up in your bedroom. As the sun goes down, our bodies should start the process of winding down as well. Eliminate or dim all lighting (including screens) after the sun goes down.
  • Address Caffeine. Caffeine is an obvious stimulant that (when consumed too late in the day) causes stimulation to your nervous system that may prevent you from naturally relaxing at night. Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood stream for 6-8 hours, so keep this in mind and stick with decaf if you crave a cup of coffee late in the day. Caffeine can also overwork your adrenal glands and cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise, which will also affect sleep cycles.
  • Don’t Drink Alcohol.  According to studies, alcohol consumption at night decreases melatonin as well as the natural nighttime elevations in growth hormone, and which plays a role in the circadian rhythm (not to mention, muscle repair/building, lipolysis, immune system stimulation and many more important functions). Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns as well.
  • Avoid Long or Irregular Napping During the Day.  Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal body clock, meaning you may struggle to sleep at night. One study found that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can negatively affect health and sleep quality. However, some studies have shown that people who take regular daytime naps did not suffer from poor quality or disrupted sleep at night.
  • Balance Blood Sugar Levels - Late-night eating may negatively impact both sleep quality and the natural release of growth hormone and melatonin. Studies show that diet low in carbohydrates improves sleep.
  • Slow Down Your Breathing - Make sure the duration of your exhalation is equal to that of your inhalation, lasting about 5 seconds each. Focus on this while going to sleep.
  • Invest In A Good Mattress and Pillow - Your bedding should be upgraded every 5-10 years (depending on how well you treat your mattress). If you are trying to get a good night sleep but you are uncomfortable or waking up with stiff muscles, your bed may be the reason. One study found that a good mattress reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, back stiffness by 59% and improved sleep quality by 60%. Poor quality or sagging bedding can lead to increased lower-back pain and sore muscles..There is not a one-size-fits all sleeping surface, so you need to take time to find out what will be best for you and your body.
  • A Visit To Your Chiropractor won’t just soothe your achy body, it can also improve the quality of your sleep. Chiropractic care isn’t generally thought of for sleep issues, however, one-third of people who have an adjustment report that they experience immediate improvement in their sleep. Chiropractic care enhances the body’s nervous system function, a key player in the efficiency of the body’s systems. In addition, when pain and tension that have built up in the spine are released, the body is more comfortable, which makes it easier to relax and fall asleep.

Good sleep plays a very important role in your overall health and can help you be mentally sharper, balance your hormones, regulate appetite, maintain a healthy weight, exercise better, feel great and function at your very best. California Family Fitness is here to promote a comprehensively healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Check back in for more updates on healthy living, and visit your local California Family Fitness location to kickstart your personal health initiative. 

dr-taglioAs a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.

The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.