With the end of Daylight Savings Time, our bodies are expected yet again to adapt to a shift that could disrupt our sleep-wake cycle for days. Even though the time shift happens only twice a year, many people suffer from ongoing sleep problems that can critically impact our health.
Those nightly 40 winks are a pretty precious commodity. That's according to Dr. Theresa Valerio from the Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University. She specializes in sleep. Although everyone is different, it seems that roughly seven hours of shut eye a night is necessary to good health. "People who sleep less than seven hours on a regular basis have more disorders of all sorts and die at an earlier age. It increases the stress level on the body because there's less rest and repair," said Valerio. "There's some science that tells us that the brain cleans out the 'sludge' that you develop all day long from normal chemical processes at night. And if you don't get that, then it causes a host of problems."
Not enough sleep impacts cognitive abilities, including memory, and performance levels lag. Some of the most common sleep disorders include not getting enough sleep, insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome.
Developing good sleep habits focus on behavioral measures. Don't use electronic gadgets prior to going to bed. Put the tablet or phone down about a half an hour to an hour before going to bed, and keep them out of the bedroom when you retire for the night. Keep a regular wakeup time to help set your circadian rhythm -- this includes weekends. Make sure that you have the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Schedule your sleep and stick to it.
You can read more about Dr. Valerio and her work in the latest edition of Redbird Scholar magazine.