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Sleep is Essential to Life

By: Maria Andrea Morales-Ramos Sleep is essential to life, and has a tremendous impact on your overall health.  An adequate amount of sleep is necessary to maintain good health. When you are at sleep, your body utilizes that time as an opportunity to restore itself which translates to better performance during the day. When you have a good night’s sleep you are more alert, have improved focus and are able to make better decisions. You are more productive, forget less, and learn more. Sleep also has an effect on your appetite.  According to research, sleep regulates two hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin tells your body that you are hungry while Leptin tells your body when you are full. When you do not get enough sleep, your levels of Ghrelin are higher and Leptin is decreased. The more Ghrelin you have, the more you want to eat and the more likely you are to eat unhealthy foods.  When you sleep well, you tend to eat less. In addition, sleep can affect your mood and your ability to cope with stress. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases stress hormones which makes you feel more anxious and stressed throughout the day.  When you are well rested, you feel happier and are better able to cope with unplanned events and stressful situations. According to the National Sleep Foundation the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 26-64 is 7-9 hours. Older adults might get 7-8 hours. What can you do if you are having trouble sleeping or are trying to create a bedtime routine to get better sleep? A few tried and true recommendations are:
  • Stick to a sleep schedule by going to bed and rising at the same time every day.
  • Exercise vigorously early in the day.
  • Take a warm shower or bath an hour before bed.
  • Enjoy a mug of warm milk or herbal tea.
  • Spend some time in quiet prayer.
  • Do some relaxing spiritual reading.
  • Adjust your room temperature between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep your room dark.
  • Turn off TV/electronics an hour before bed.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages before bed.
  • Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the following stretches to wind down and relax:
      FORWARD FOLD Come to a comfortable cross-legged seated position.  Take a deep inhale as you sit up tall and lengthen your spine.  Exhale as you fold forward from your hips, stopping when you start to feel a stretch.  Let your arms settle forward.  Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Inhale as you round up one vertebrae at a time.         TWIST Still in your cross-legged position, put your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind your right hip.  Inhale to sit tall and lengthen, exhale as you gently twist to the right.  You can look over your right shoulder or just close your eyes for a few deep breaths.  Release out of the pose and repeat on the other side for the same amount of time.         LEGS ON THE WALL OR BED Sit sideways as close to the headboard or wall as you can, and swing your legs up.  You may need to adjust yourself closer or farther from the wall depending on what is comfortable for you.  If needed, you can bend your knees and put your feet against the headboard.  Let your arms relax to the sides, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  You may want to stay a minute or so.  When finished, bend the knees and roll to the side.  Lay there for a few breaths before getting up.   Sweet dreams!!     Maria Andrea Morales-Ramos has her M.S in Health Promotion, B.S in Psychology, is a Certified ACE Personal Trainer and is currently going through Pietra Fitness Instructor Training (P-FIT).