Did you know that we live in a sleep deprived society?
According to a study produced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1/3 of Americans report that they get insufficient sleep. That is a lot of people! The CDC has declared sleep deprivation in the United States as a public health epidemic. This is a significant public health concern because long-term inadequate sleep or sleep disorders can increase the risk for cancers, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.
Sleep deprivation can also impact immune function. Cytokines, proteins that are secreted from immune cells that regulate immune and inflammatory responses, are released while we are sleeping. Obtaining fewer hours of sleep reduces the production of these important messengers.
The National Sleep Foundation advises a sleep range of 7- 9 hours per night for adults and 10-11 hours per night for children. The suggestions listed below can support us in improving sleep hygiene and maintaining adequate amounts of sleep consistently:
Getting more sunlight during the day helps to support the secretion of melatonin at night. Melatonin is an important hormone that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Sleep in a dark, quiet space. This means that television and electronic devices (i.e. computer, smartphone, ipad) should be turned off during sleeping hours. The blue light emitted from these devices can be disruptive and inhibit the secretion of melatonin.
Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine (i.e. coffee, black tea, green tea, dark chocolate) late in the day.
Implement a relaxing routine before bedtime, i.e. warm bath, listen to peaceful or meditative music.
Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
Valerian root is an herb that can help with falling asleep and staying asleep. This tea can be sipped during the evening hours.
Committment to getting a healthy amount of sleep each evening is important to our health and overall wellbeing.