Sleep is the Foundation of Good Health
As a mother of two (including an infant), I can assure you I know the value of a good night’s sleep. A restful night of uninterrupted sleep is something new parents dream of, and we can usually sleep like rocks if we only get the chance.
An occasional restless night is not unfamiliar to most of us. It’s annoying, but it’s usually nothing to lose sleep over. But the inability to fall asleep, or to remain asleep throughout the night, is something that happens to up to one-third of adults, and it’s a health problem that deserves attention. Chronic insomnia—a condition characterized by sleep problems that last for more than three months—is no small thing.
People who don’t get adequate sleep—about eight hours of shut-eye per 24-hour period—are at increased risk for a range of health problems, from type 2 diabetes, to depression, high blood pressure and even death. Sleep is essential to health, and most of us need about eight hours per day. Children and adolescents require even more. There’s evidence that insomnia runs in families. Good sleep habits can help alleviate occasional sleeplessness. They include: no caffeine late in the day; a cool, completely dark place to sleep; no electronics in the bedroom; no heavy eating before bed; keeping a regular bedtime schedule; and plenty of exercise.
Exercise can be especially helpful, but new research suggests patience will be in order: regular exercise can improve sleep quality, but it may take up to four months before you see a difference.
Kelly Glazer Baron, Kathryn J. Reid, Phyllis C. Zee. Exercise to Improve Sleep in Insomnia: Exploration of the Bidirectional Effects. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2013 DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.2930
Zizi F, Pandey A, Murrray-Bachmann R, Vincent M, McFarlane S, Ogedegbe G, et al. Race/ethnicity, sleep duration, and diabetes mellitus: analysis of the National Health Interview Survey. Am J Med. 2012 Feb;125(2):162-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.08.020.