Adequate Sleep is As Important as A Healthy Diet

Have you improved your diet and exercise habits without seeing the results people rave about, such as more energy, weight loss and immunity to sickness? Well, have you thought about how your sleeping habits might play a role?

Sleep has been called the “third pillar” of health, along with nutrition and exercise, yet according to the CDC, 35 percent of Americans report getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. Meanwhile, the recommendation for an adult is 7-8 hours. Sleep deprivation can significantly impact your energy levels, your ability to focus, your stress levels and your overall health. But there’s an easy solution that you can try right now! Implement a few of these expert tips to get more adequate sleep on a regular basis.

  1. Make Bedtime a Priority

“It’s easy to say that getting a good night of sleep doesn’t matter, or put it off for an extra hour of TV or to catch up on work. But sleep is like exercise or eating well: you need to prioritize it and build it into your day. Sleep is vital, and one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health.” — Dr. Scott Kutscher, Assistant Professor of Sleep and Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

  1. Turn Off Technology

“Dim the lights one hour before desired bedtime and also turn off the screens one hour before bed. Light, including that from computers, iPads, TVs and smart phones, is the most powerful trigger for our neurotransmitters to switch to the ‘on’ position. If people have a tendency toward insomnia, they can be up for hours waiting to switch to turn off.” — Dr. Lisa Shives, founder of The Linden Center for Sleep and Weight Management in Chicago

  1. Create A Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

“Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, like taking a warm bath or reading a magazine. It’s important to unwind before getting into bed.” — Dr. David Volpi, founder EOS Sleep Centers.

  1. Process Your Day Before You Hit the Sack

“If you have trouble ‘turning your mind off’ as soon as you get into bed, it could mean that you have not given yourself enough time to work through the issues of the day. You maybe did some chores around the house, put the kids to bed, watched some TV — that was plenty of time to wind down, right? Well, a lot of those activities are more distracting than relaxing. Instead of working through those thoughts and worries, you kept your mind busy doing something else. So, now that you are in bed, with nothing else to focus on, those thoughts come up again. A better approach would be to take some time in the evening to work through the day, make lists to do tomorrow and clear your mental desktop of all the stuff that you still have to think about. Then, get into bed.” — Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., Instructor of Psychiatry at the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania

  1. Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine Before Bed                    

“Even if you think they are helping you fall asleep initially, alcohol and medicines that make you drowsy may affect your sleep throughout the night. To achieve a sound, restful sleep, ensure the last two hours before bed are void of these items or any strenuous activity so your body realizes it’s time for bed.” — Dr. Matthew Mingrone, Lead Physician for EOS Sleep Centers in California

  1. Take A Nap

“Napping can help stave off the exhaustion from not getting enough nighttime sleep. It can increase your cognition by promoting the same level of memory improvement as a full night of sleep. It helps you process your emotions so you not only think better but you feel better after a nap. I would recommend people nap for five to 30 minutes or 60 to 90 minutes as often as possible. That amount of time will refresh you without letting you wake up groggy.” — Dr. Sara Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life

Excerpts for this article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

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