By Alfredo Lim, M.D.
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you may be putting your health at risk.
Getting quality sleep—and enough of it—is critical. While you’re sleeping, your body is performing many important tasks vital to good health. Sleep:
• Allows you to produce hormones that help your body fight infection, repair damaged cells and regulate its use of energy, which can impact your appetite and weight.
• Helps the brain learn and creates memories.
• Helps you stay sharp, think clearly and react quickly in situations that depend on it, such as driving.
• Is closely tied to mood. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to be irritable, struggle with relationships and even become depressed.
Insufficient sleep is linked with an increased risk of many health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and an increase in migraine headaches.
While individual needs may vary, most adults require between seven and eight hours of sleep. For some, this can be challenging. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Insomnia can be an acute, short-term issue or a chronic problem.
Sleep aids such as Ambien, Lunesta and a variety of over-the-counter options may seem like an easy way to beat insomnia, but they have their drawbacks. They may leave you feeling drowsy in the morning, and some are habit-forming.
Try natural ways to coax your body to sleep. Talk to your doctor about cognitive behavior therapies that use relaxation techniques, biofeedback and other tools.
For occasional insomnia, simple lifestyle changes can help:
• Get on a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.
• Avoid caffeine, tobacco and other stimulants if you have trouble sleeping.
• Avoid alcohol. At first it makes you drowsy, but later it keeps you awake.
• Establish a relaxing bedroom environment. Move the television and computer out of the bedroom. Keep lighting dim.
• Maintain a cool room temperature.
• Indulge in comfortable bedding.
Here’s to a good night’s sleep!
Alfredo Lim, M.D., specializes in internal medicine, with a special interest in caring for the health of seniors, at North Phoenix Medical Clinic, part of the John C. Lincoln Physician Network, at 9100 N. 2nd St., Suite 121, 602-997-7331, JCL.com/practices. The information in “To Your Health” is provided by John C. Lincoln Health Network as general information only. For medical advice, please consult your physician.