man sleep in bedGetting a good night’s sleep is essential, but still ends up at the bottom of the list and is elusive for many.  Why?  The number one excuse is “I don’t have enough time to sleep”.  Sleep is one of the most important components in our everyday lives and should not be considered just another “activity”.  Too many of us alter our bedtime to pursue personal or professional goals, or social obligations.  We need to find a balance.
Sleep, diet and exercise are essential parts to your health and longevity.  Simultaneously, sleep, diet and exercise affect your mood, and vice-versa.
Improved Sleep = Improved Mood = Improved Sleep

We need to view sleep as an interconnected piece of the puzzle, along with other functions, so that we consciously make changes in certain behaviors that can lead to improvements in sleep.  Problems that occur during sleep are typically found in individuals undergoing stress or are managing chronic health conditions.  Who doesn’t have stress?  This is a great question, and the answer is that most people DO have stress, but what matters is how you manage the stress.  Do you let it completely affect your existence, or are you still performing the normal activities and functions of everyday life?

The relationship between waking behavior and sleep quality has been investigated for years.  For example, post-menopausal women are at risk for disturbed sleep.  One thought behind this is because women at that age are less active than when they were younger, which in turn affects their mood by increasing chance of depression/anxiety, leading to sleep disorders.

Both sleep quality and sleep quantity have significant impacts on mental and physical health.
Mental impacts – anxiety, depression, disorientation, performance issues, substance abuse problems.
Physical impacts – circadian rhythm disruption, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, body temperature, hormone release.

Poor sleep negatively impacts the restorative stages of the sleep cycle, and if you are not spending as much time in those stages as necessary, then you will not function to your full potential during the next day.  Brain activity is altered, as well as self-awareness.  You become unproductive at work, which I think we can all relate to in some way or another.  You don’t feel good when your thinking is impaired, your reaction time slowed, and ability to handle day-to-day life, or work situations, becomes overwhelming.

If you find that you are feeling depressed or anxious, an important thing to notate is your sleep duration.  How long are you actually resting every night?
Sleep duration categories:
Short – 6 hours or less per day
Long – 10 hours or more
Recommended – 7-9 hours is considered “normal”

Data suggests that “long” sleep may have decreased from 11.6% reported in 1977 to 7.8% in 2009.
Quantity and quality of sleep are also related to physical activity and sedentary time.  Typically, people who are active and spend time outside experience more pleasant moods, and therefore better sleep.
Measuring Sleep Quality:
Restful (normal)
Average (less than restful
Restless – insomnia

Physical activity doesn’t mean that you must spend 2 hours in the gym training vigorously.  It can include walking, dancing, cleaning the house, yardwork, etc.  Sedentary time, meaning time sitting or lying down, will significantly increase the likelihood of impaired sleep.  Those with sedentary time in excess of 6 hours – are the people at the greatest risk (likelihood of restless sleep by 38-85%).  Be mindful of consistent physical activity (walk, take the stairs, stretch at work or consider a standing desk).  Another behavioral habit for a healthier life would be to only use your bed for sleep or sex, rather than lying in bed to watch movies or play video games during waking hours.  This will help promote good sleep habits and make you more aware that the bed should be for sleeping only.
For more information on behavior and sleep, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Klein, please contact our office at (586) 573-0438.

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