The Influence of Sleep on Overall Health
This year, National Sleep Awareness Week will be observed from March 5-11, encouraging Americans to acknowledge the influence of sleep on overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 percent of Americans report occasionally not getting enough sleep, with 10 percent complaining of chronic insomnia. Sleep is an important component in good mental and physical health, as well as the prevention of chronic disease.
Sleep: more active than passive
Sleep may seem like a passive activity that usually happens when all other important daily tasks are complete. However, getting an adequate amount of quality sleep may be just as important to good health as nutrition and exercise. Essential maintenance functions happen within the body while we’re sleeping. Proper rest can affect everything from physical appearance to daily performance and especially overall health, mood and quality of life.
Consequences of inadequate sleep
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep every night, though the required amount differs on an individual basis. Inadequate sleep can lead to issues with daily functioning, such as:
- Decreased productivity and ability to pay attention.
- Difficulty consolidating and remembering information.
- Increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.
Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to an increased risk for the following health concerns:
- Substance abuse
- Heart disease
Fluffy pillows, but not fluffy kittens
Obtaining your nightly sleep requirement can be accomplished by following a few simple techniques. It’s important to establish a consistent sleep and wake time, even during the weekend. A bedtime routine can also help prepare your mind and body for sleep; good choices include a hot bath or soothing music an hour or so before bedtime.
Though regular exercise is important for quality sleep, opt for this activity earlier in the day as late-day exercise can make it difficult to fall asleep. Avoid a large meal, as well as alcohol and caffeine, close to bedtime. Finish your evening meal two to three hours prior to going to bed. Keep your bedroom dark and cool with comfortable bedding and pillows. Make sure your room is quiet, with no television or computer, and keep all pets out for the night.
How does your sleep rate?
Difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently throughout the night, difficulty waking up on time or waking up without a well-rested feeling are all common complaints of people who are not able to get a good night’s sleep. These issues can be attributed to life events, stress or jet lag, but they may also be related to chronic pain, digestive problems, other health problems or a sleep disorder.
A good night’s sleep is within reach
Getting a good night sleep doesn’t need to be elusive! If you feel you aren’t sleeping well, it’s important to talk with your doctor and discuss your symptoms. Together, you’ll be able to reach a treatment option that works for you!
Meritain Health supports wellness
Meritain Health provides the programs and services that help members achieve and maintain wellness. We partner with best-in-class vendors to provide programs that include biometrics screenings, tobacco cessation support, weight loss assistance and more. Additionally, onsite seminars and other wellness programs are available covering a wide range of health topics.
For more information about all the programs and services available as part of a Meritain Health benefits plan, contact your Meritain Health representative.