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Sleep Your Way To Better Health

May 11, 2012

Sleep: it’s probably the last thing on your priority list, but one of the first things you notice when it’s missing. A new study from the CDC shows that 41 million American workers aren’t getting enough sleep. That’s about 30% of the American workforce.

A strong cup of coffee may mask symptoms briefly, but the problems of insufficient sleep run much deeper: the CDC calls it a “public health epidemic,” not only because it drastically increases on-the-job accidents:

“Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.”  (CDC)

Follow the links above to learn more about the problem. And follow these tips below to work yourself toward a personal solution.

10 Healthy Sleep Tips

From the National Sleep Foundation:

  1. Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule, including weekends.
  2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading a book or listening to soothing music.
  3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.
  4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
  6. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime.
  7. Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime.
  8. Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake.
  9. Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep.
  10. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

The National Sleep Foundation is a great resource for all sorts of sleep-related information, including an excellent response to the most common sleep-related question, “How much sleep do I need?”

If you want to start sleeping better, now is the time to start. Get your family on board (it’ll do you all good), or for online reinforcement, the folks over at GOOD.is have named “Sleep Better” as their GOOD 30-Day Challenge for May (at the end of the article, you can sign up for sleeping tips and reminders all month).

Now, go get some zzz’s! And sleep well.

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