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Why Sleep Is Key To Health

Sleep. It can be luxurious, invigorating and an escape. Or it can be elusive, anxiety-provoking and down right dangerous. This state of suspended animation is where we spend nearly a third of our lives, and it's often skimmed over when we're addressing our wellness. Restorative sleep is a requirement for good health. A lot of great things happen when we sleep well: the brain stores information and cleans up debris, cells are repaired and hormone systems are recalibrated. We wake up feeling ready to tackle another day, sharp and focused.

For the 20% of folks who experience occasional insomnia and the 10% of people struggling with chronic insomnia, the lack of proper rest can have long-lasting effects. Cognition, memory, and mood can all be negatively impacted by poor quality sleep. The endocrine system and cardiovascular system can take quite a hit, as well. Long-term sleep deficit has been associate with health impacts such as high blood pressure, stroke, abnormal weight gain and increased risk for diabetes.

Certainly, the number of hours we sleep can be impacted by our busy lives - we eek by on a couple less hours than we need, carving away that time for other life activities. We lose the quality of sleep when our allergies act up, when the dog barks next door, when our brains just won't stop thinking about that nagging thought, when the caffeine we had at 2:30 is still kicking around in our system. The next day is inevitably full of anxiety, fatigue, poor concentration, and decreased stamina.

Let me say it, loud and clear: There is no. way. around. getting. enough. sleep. If we don't see sleep as the crucial and productive part of our lives that it is, it gets bumped to the back burner of self-care. Want better mental health? Make sure you're getting good sleep. Want enhanced athletic performance? Get more sleep. Want to help your blood pressure? Let's make sure you're sleeping. Want to work on your pre-diabetes? You guessed it. Sleep.

How do we tackle these barriers to restorative rest? Sleep quantity and quality should be part of your health assessment. For any new or chronic health concerns, sleep patterns need to be reviewed and any barriers to healthy rest need to be addressed. Some patients require better sleep hygiene, a sleep study (which can be easily done at home) with treatment for sleep apnea, or even cognitive behavioral therapy. Treatments vary, but the most fundamental need for good quality rest is universal. Here's wishing you a full 8 hours of beautiful dreams!


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