Regular, restful sleep is important, not only so we can be energized to meet the day, but because certain internal processes can’t happen without it. Certain hormones are primarily manufactured during deep sleep. Sleep is also when the body does most of its rebuilding. If we skimp on sleep, we greatly reduce the body’s ability to do that rebuilding, and eventually that will catch up to us!
Sleep has been associated in studies with insulin sensitivity1, blood pressure regulation2, and immunity3 4. The role of human growth hormone (secreted during sleep, particularly in men)5 in weight management may also suggest a relationship between sleep and weight maintenance.
Getting Restful Sleep
Of course simply going to bed is essential! Many of us are low on sleep purely because we choose to schedule our lives in such a way as to leave too little time for sleep. It also means, however, that other blocks to healthy sleep need to be addressed. Health issues like sleep apnea need to be dealt with, and should not be taken lightly.
Besides major health issues, though, other things can also interfere with sleep, and many of these are within our control. Some tips to consider:
- Practice good “sleep hygiene”: reserve the bed for sleep (and intimacy), keep the room dark, and don’t use screened devices too close to bedtime, and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Be sure you’re exposed to sunlight early in the day. This helps the body know when to produce melatonin.
- B vitamins are energizing, so avoid taking B vitamin supplements too late in the day. (Some people also have issues with liver causing insomnia if eaten too late in the day.)
- For some people, exercising in the evening can disrupt sleep. If sleep is a problem for you, consider moving your workout to earlier in the day.
- Food sensitivities can disrupt sleep, so consider that as a possibility, especially if regular nightmares or gut pains are involved.