The Health Benefits of Good Sleep
Carmen Farrand, Director of Health and Wellness - Hunterdon Region
Sleep is crucial for good health. Health implications of quality sleep are generally marked by the consequences of NOT getting regular, quality sleep. For example, lack of sleep causes irritability, depression, digestive issues, drowsiness during the day, and poor judgment. As lack of sleep continues it can lead to more serious deficiencies and health issues including: high blood pressure, diabetes, immune disease, increased heart disease, risk-taking behaviors, suicide and depression.
More specifically, a lack of quality sleep impacts your heart and circulatory system via the activation of parasympathetic and sympathetic systems during non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM sleep respectively. When you wake, blood pressure and heart rate increase, so you want to make sure you are not waking frequently throughout the night, stimulating sharp increases to heart rate and blood pressure.
Your circadian clock (the body knowing what to do when you are awake and asleep), impacts hormones and metabolism. For example, in the morning your body releases cortisol, which helps you be alert when you wake up. Also, the same clock or rhythms as they are commonly referred to, inform the liver as to when to work harder digesting fats. These are just a few examples of negative consequences to poor quality sleep. I encourage you to visit the link in the Resource below to further learn about other adverse effects of poor sleep. In the meantime, take control of the amount of sleep and the quality of sleep you receive by incorporating these simple tips:
- Plan your sleep: Make time and commit to a solid and consistent sleep schedule. Be disciplined and get to bed. Whatever is occupying your time can wait until tomorrow. With more sleep you may find yourself far more productive during the day!
- Watch what you eat and drink: How much you eat/drink and how late you eat/drink can affect your sleep habits.
- Plan some light exercise after your evening meal: Movement has shown to improve sleep. Do not plan anything too strenuous after dinner, but light and restorative exercise can improve sleep.
- Avoid daytime naps: Although you may be tired during the day, resist the urge to take daytime naps and instead adjust your sleep schedule so you will sleep better during the night.
Sweet dreams as you strive to improve your daily healthy habits.
About the Author
Carmen Farrand is Director of Health & Wellness for the Hunterdon Region of YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties. She began exploring health and wellness in 2009 with a certification in Zumba instruction. Carmen began serving the Y community in 2014 teaching Group Fitness classes, and has been full-time with the YMCA since 2018.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Health, Why Is Sleep Important?