Sleep: Break the six-hour threshold!

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Who averages six hours or less of shut-eye a night? The answer: Thirty percent of working adults in this country.

That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — which calls this an “important public health concern.” For overall well-being, adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep daily, say the CDC, as well as other health experts.

Are you one of the working weary? You may be missing out on more than sweet dreams.

The risks of just six
Sleep is a time both to rest and to rejuvenate. Your body may be at ease — but your brain is busy. It’s cycling through a series of stages with specific tasks in mind.

For example, shorting yourself on sleep could mean skipping the stage where your brain stores memories. Or, maybe you don’t complete the cycle that repairs tissue — or that releases hormones that help your body’s use of energy.

The results? Fatigue, for starters — which leaves you less alert and could lead to accidents at work and on the road. And, lack of sleep raises the risk of chronic health problems, including: •High blood pressure
•Heart disease
•Diabetes
•Anxiety and depression

It’s also linked to obesity. One reason: People who sleep less tend to prefer foods high in calories. And, they’re more likely to overeat, too.

Clock the time you need
Try these steps to break the six-hour threshold — and enjoy seven, eight or even nine hours of sleep: •Do the math — set a bedtime that allows you enough hours of slumber.
•Try to go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Do this as much as possible, even on weekends.
•Exercise regularly.* But, finish workouts well before bedtime — so you have time to wind down.
•If you nap, make it before 3 p.m. — and for less than an hour.
•If you’re sensitive to caffeine, avoid it after midday. And, keep in mind that both nicotine and alcohol can affect sleep quality.
•Create a soothing bedtime routine. For example, turn off TVs and computers, soak in a warm bath or read quietly.

Barb Wyckoff, RN, NuHealth Wellness Team

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