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Not Feeling Well? Your Sleep Habits May be the Culprit


A reasonable time to go to bed rolls around. Instead of going to bed, you stay up watching a video on YouTube on your tablet and then another, and then another. The next thing you know it is the middle of the night and you have to be up to go to work in less than five hours. Does this or something like it sound familiar? Sleep habits can be a major contributing factor to numerous health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and diabetes. According to a report published on the Sleep Health Foundation website, sleep disorders cost the Australian economy in excess of $5.1 billion in healthcare and other costs.

Importance of Sleep

Doctors used to think that sleep was a time when the body simply shut down and basically reset for the coming day. However, current research suggests that sleep is an extremely active state affecting insulin levels, metabolism, brain activity and many other body processes. Inadequate sleep can leave you feeling tired, raise your blood pressure, and place you at risk for developing obesity and diabetes. Additionally, being sleep-deprived can increase your risk of being in an accident and make you inefficient at work.

The average adult needs approximately eight hours of sleep for optimal health. Children need much more sleep as their bodies grow and mature. Teenagers need approximately eight to ten hours of sleep nightly.

Tips to Improve Your Sleep Habits & Improve Your Health

Set a regular sleep pattern. As tempting as it can be to sleep in late on the weekends and stay up later than normal, you are far better off if you keep a regular sleep pattern. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day allows your body clock to set, releasing sleep promoting hormones to help you sleep better.

Pay attention to what you eat in the evening. One of the things your body does at night is process the foods you eat late in the afternoon and evening. Try to avoid eating or drinking foods that have caffeine, such as coffee, tea, chocolate and soda. Also, avoid spicy foods that can cause stomach upset or acid reflux problems.

Wind down and relax before going to bed. Watching television programs that raise your heart rate and adrenaline levels can make it hard to go to sleep. Instead of playing a heart-pumping video game, try listening to soft music or reading. By doing quiet, relaxing activities, you set the stage for your body to let you go to sleep easily.

Use Your Bed for Sleeping. Laying in bed watching television, playing video games or playing with your laptop or tablet can interfere with your sleep. Instead of relaxing into sleep, your body will be keyed up when you are in bed.

Sleep disturbance can be a symptom of depression and anxiety. If you continue to have problems with your sleep or have difficulty setting healthy sleep habits, consider talking to a professional psychologist or counsellor who can help guide you to improvements.

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