When it comes to living a healthy life there are no shortage of opinions on how to eat, what to eat, and how to exercise. You have many options to choose from, from keto and kettlebells to crossfit and paleo.
But what about the healthy life practice that is often left, quite literally, in the dark? We’re talking about sleep. Sleep is a cornerstone of good health, with the average nightly recommendation at 7-9 hours for adults. Your sleep quality impacts your:
- Mental clarity. Consider how much your life is impacted when you are fatigued, can’t handle stress, and are irritable. Lack of sleep can lead to cognitive impairment, imbalanced moods, memory loss.
- Immune system. When you have an infection, inflammation, or are under stress, certain cytokines – a protein your immune system releases – need to increase to fight those. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these cytokines. The biomarker hs-CRP is a beacon for inflammation. Because your liver produces this protein in response to inflammation, hs-CRP is one of the best indicators of inflammation.Inflammation is our body’s response to a variety of threats or stressors, such as physiological, such as a sprained ankle, or even psychological, such as workplace or financial stress. While a little inflammation is normal and healthy, a persistently elevated amount can have a dangerous effect on your overall health.
- Weight. Lack of sleep has shown to be a cause of overeating because people who don’t get enough sleep have too much of the hormone that triggers hunger (ghrelin) and too little of the one that tells the body it’s full and to stop eating (leptin).
- Risk for diseases. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Important note: People who sleep over 9 hours a day are more likely to be overweight, diabetic, depressed and have heart disease. Consult your physician if you are concerned about or are experiencing these side-effects.
Because this week is National Sleep Awareness Week (#YourDayBeginsWithSleep), here are some daily habits that might be leading to your sleepless or poor quality sleep nights.
3 Daily Habits That Are Disrupting Your Sleep Quality
1. Happy Hours
As detailed by the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol affects the quality and quantity of your sleep. Whether it’s post work drinks at a favorite watering hole, habitually unwinding at the end of the work day with a few glasses of wine at home, or even using alcohol as a sleep aid.
Consuming alcohol, a depressant, disrupts your sleep pattern and can have you waking up in the middle of the night due to interrupted circadian rhythm and blocked REM sleep. Because alcohol causes your whole body to relax, that includes your throat muscles, which aggravates your breathing to feed snoring and sleep apnea.
Additionally, because alcohol is a diuretic, consumption leads to increased bathroom breaks in the middle of the night, further disrupting a night of continuous sleep.
Tips to help: Ease up on the alcohol and focus on incorporating new habits that promote quality sleep. Try opting for sparkling water at Happy Hours or replacing a nightly glass of wine with a new ritual of a mug of sleepy time tea.
2. Going to bed “whenever.”
The National Sleep Foundation released the results of its recent Sleep in America® poll, with results finding that good sleep health is strongly related to sticking to a regular sleep schedule. “Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and feeling well-rested are related; those with the most regular and consistent weekday sleep schedules are about 1.5 times more likely to report feeling well-rested than their most variable sleep schedule-having counterparts.“
Tips to help: Calculate your new bed time based on your schedule with this simple bedtime calculator. If you need to, schedule it in your calendar and put it as part of your daily to-do list. Practice sticking to a sleep schedule, even on weekends, to build the habit.
3. Scrolling/texting/emailing before bed.
According to Sleep.org, 39 percent of Americans tote their phone to bed and use it to text before tucking in.
This is problematic because the blue light emitted from your phone suppresses the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Blue light also comes from devices like tablets, televisions, laptops, and e-readers.
Tips to help: Commit to powering down all devices at least an hour before your decided bed time. If an hour is not realistic right now, start with small incremental time changes of 10 minutes. You can work your way back to an hour. Make good use of your phone’s Do Not Disturb features to block messages from tempting you to stray from your commitment to better sleep habits.
You can even get a small, inexpensive alarm clock and remove the phone from your bedroom entirely.
A $6 investment for increased health seems like one of the most valuable investments you could ever make.
Need help building your new habit? Learn these 5 powerful steps.
How WellnessFX Can Help
We believe in the power in a drop of blood. Assessing your biomarkers puts you in the driver’s seat. From hs-crp, cortisol, and your thyroid to important vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and magnesium, knowing these biomarkers offers a comprehensive picture of what your body is up to. This is an actionable way you can empower yourself to fully understand the impact your lack of sleep is having on your overall health.
Because your blood regenerates every 120 days, it’s easy to see the differences that lifestyle changes can make on your health, from sleep to diet, exercise, and supplements. When you check in on your biomarkers over time, you can make strong correlations between what you’re doing to stay healthy and see how it’s affecting your numbers.
Because everyone’s biochemistry is unique, your low energy levels may not necessarily be due to simply poor sleep habits. Check out Tired all the time? 4 reasons that could explain why.
The most accurate way to understand what’s affecting your energy levels and long-term health is through your biochemistry. Having the data puts you in the driver’s seat because once you test, you’ll have a baseline that informs what adjustments you should make next.
Get started today by getting a blood test and making the commitment to #OwnYourHealth.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.