There is a health practice that takes no energy, but quite a bit of self control. It is free, yet the cost of going without is high. Sunshine encourages it, but light hinders it. What is it?
The answer to this riddle may surprise you as it's not often though of as a "health practice". But it is as just as important for our health as exercising, meditating, managing stress, and eating nutritious foods.
What is it? Sleep!
Sleep is essential for all of the body's systems! Without adequate sleep the neurological, endocrine, musculature, digestive, and immune systems are compromised. But our society does not recognize the importance of sleep or value it the way it should.
You may be surprised, but my encouragement for you today is to get some more sleep!
Does Sleep Really Matter?
While adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, almost a third of adults don’t even get six! Getting less than six hours of sleep a night is associated with chronic inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and hypertension. Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of psychiatric disorders such as depression & anxiety.
Melatonin, one of the main hormones that controls your circadian rhythms, actually increases your immune system function. This immune support may help your body fight off infections and protect you from illness.
Sleep is also crucial for...
- Enhancing memory and mental clarity
- Musculoskeletal growth and repair
- Boosting mood and energy
- Increasing stress tolerance
How to Get a Good Night’s Rest
My biggest challenge for you is to simply go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you have been going to bed over the last few weeks. Many of us have had our routines disrupted by the current state of things in the world. This may have impacted when you end up going to bed.
Some people may find that they need some time for themselves in the evening after everyone else goes to sleep. Others may be stressed and want to unwind by bingeing on Netflix. This is understandable, but we must realize that it comes at a cost.
Perhaps it would be possible to find some time earlier in the evening to do those things so that your sleep is not disturbed. Being creative and asking for help can go a long way during this time. Maybe you ask a spouse for help with responsibilities a few evenings a week, or let your kids have more time on electronics so you have a break in the afternoon.
Whatever you decide, be sure you are intentional about your choices!
Try going to bed 30 minutes early tonight and see how you feel in the morning. If you try this and find that you are unable to get a solid night’s rest, you can find more tips in the Make Sleep a Priority blog.
Remember, without adequate sleep you cannot be healthy! You can eat a perfect diet and exercise, but if you are not sleeping enough and managing your stress, you can still tend towards poor health!