Catching up on some sleep

By Melanie Ross • Published: May 22nd, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you skimp on getting enough sleep, you also risk getting sick. A new study published in the journal Sleep adds more evidence to the understanding that sleep deprivation weakens the immune system. Researchers examined the sleeping habits of 11 pairs of twin adults over a period of time and found that the twin who slept fewer hours had a weaker immune system than the more-rested sibling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults sleep at least seven hours per night. However, Americans have lost nearly two hours of sleep over the past 100 years, the CDC said, and one-third of working adults sleep less than six hours each night.

Simply put, Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, and that’s bad for our health. Adequate sleep is as crucial to good health as exercise and diet. Sleep deprivation fogs the brain, slows reaction time and can ultimately lead to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Sleep is regenerative and keeps the body functioning properly.

How can you catch more Zs? A few simple steps can greatly improve your sleeping habits. Start by lying in bed 15 minutes earlier each night. If you regularly go to bed at 11 p.m., force yourself to lie down at 10:45 and relax. Stick to a regular schedule and go to bed at the same time every night. Don’t use electronics right before bed; the light emitted by phones and computer screens tricks the brain into remaining awake. Instead, grab a book.

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, speak with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Earn back your lost sleep. It’ll keep you healthy and moving during your busy hours awake.