Friday, September 6, 2013

Getting a Good Night's Sleep

It’s one of the most important things you can do for your health, yet it eludes most individuals at least occasionally. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle.
By instituting proper sleep hygiene, recognizing how much sleep you require and being aware of sleep problems and disorders, you can ensure quality sleep for you and your family members.

Importance of sleep:

Maintains proper brain function and a healthy mental state
Ensures healing and repairing of major organs
Helps control eating by balancing hormones that make you feel hungry (gherlin) or full (leptin)
Regulates proper immune system response

Sleep deprivation, the condition of not getting adequate sleep, may be acute, occurring on occasion, or chronic, lasting months or longer. Regardless of how sleep deprivation presents itself, lack of sleep can result in fatigue, depression, problems with concentration and memory, illness and injury according to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute,

Source: National Sleep Foundation

Sleep needs vary depending on the individual, but younger children require far more sleep than most other individuals. Teenagers typically have a different internal clock, being energized in the evening hours while sleeping late in the mornings. More information regarding sleep requirements can be found at

Proper sleep hygiene, the necessary practices that ensure regular, quality sleep and daytime alertness, is recommended for adequate sleep. Suggestions for good sleep hygiene include:

Keep the bedroom dark, cool and uncluttered
Maintain regular sleep and wake patterns, even on weekends
Establish a relaxing routine—read, take a warm bath, or meditate, for instance
Turn off electronic devices
Avoid the following:  daytime napping; caffeine, alcohol and exercise close to bedtime; large meals late in the day

Sleep problems and disorders are becoming more prevalent in today’s fast-paced world.  According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common sleep challenges include:

Insomnia—the inability to fall and remain asleep, waking up feeling unrested. Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint among Americans.
Sleep Apnea—a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts again.
RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome—a condition that causes legs to feel uncomfortable, which may result in movement. Typically occurs in the evenings and can disrupt sleep.

Woman sleeping

If you’ve incorporated good sleep hygiene into your daily routine and sleep is still a problem, what else can be done?

See your physician to ensure you don’t have an underlying medical condition.
Your physician may order tests or a sleep study to help determine the basis of your sleep challenges.
Under the direction of a doctor or other health professional, herbs and natural remedies such as melatonin, chamomile, hops or valerian may be helpful. Lavender and lavender-based products have been used to induce a state of calm and relaxation too.
Prescription medications are available for use as well. Speak with your physician about your specific needs. Remember, the FamilyWize card gives great discounts on prescription medications.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

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