There was a recent survey published in USA Today that asked the respondents the question, “How do you sleep at night?” Surprisingly, only 8% of the adults who responded said they routinely wake up feeling rested. I’m willing to bet that all of us remember those blissful days of our youth, when sleep came naturally and fully. Where we slept through the night for 10-12 hours at a time. Waking up in the morning we really felt completely refreshed. We opted for orange juice or milk then rather than coffee or tea today. So, why can we not enjoy that same quality of sleep as we age? Why do we find ourselves in the midst of an apparent sleep epidemic?
For many of us, getting older means significant changes to our lifestyle, our responsibilities, sleep patterns, and stress levels. The hectic pace of our life causes us to make food choices that may not be the ideal. Over time, improper nutrition, lack of exercise, and constant levels of stress have a cumulative effect on our body, especially if we do not take steps to neutralize it. The most profound effect is on our sleep which is the linchpin that keeps everything else in our body running as it should.
Without sufficient and consistent sleep, we become irritable, weary, easily frustrated, more susceptible to infection, and desperate to do whatever it takes to get through the day. This means increasing our consumption of caffeine, sugary snacks, and sometimes alcohol to help us sleep at night. The tendency to put on excess weight increases, because we simply don’t have the energy to exercise as we should. The extra weight can cause inflammation, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. And it’s all rooted in life’s most essential necessities – sleep.
We find ourselves in a sleep epidemic because we downplay the significance of sleep. We forget the effort our own parents put into getting us to bed at a reasonable time to keep us healthy and happy. Look into the mirror. What do you see? Does the face of the person looking back at you look tired? If you stop to really think about it, how tired do you really feel? When was the last time you had a good night of sleep or woke up feeling well rested?
While quality of sleep is the ultimate goal, it may be more than a matter of going to bed earlier. We may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This could be the indication of an underlying issue that requires a change in diet, exercise, supplementation, or hormone stabilization. Only you have the power to determine how well you treat the body you find yourself in. Don’t you deserve to feel the best each and every day?