You probably take sleep for granted, thinking that you can always make up for lost rest with quick lunch break naps. The thing is, turning in at night is important for your overall wellness, and missing those peak hours when your body needs to recuperate can cause health issues for you down the road.
“Sleep is highly organized and complicated,” explained neurologist and sleep expert Dr. Rosalina Picar during the recent launch of Dunlopillo Talasilver Wave, the newest mattress technology that ensures you utmost comfort without sacrificing support. “We sleep so that we can stay awake.”
Lack of sleep triggers a chain of negative bodily shifts and creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to break free from:
1. “Your immune system changes.”
“ [It] cannot put up a [proper] response,” Dr. Rosalina said, citing that this is one of the main reasons why doctors recommend that those who are scheduled to take flu vaccines have proper sleep the night before. “When you don’t get sleep, you get sick.”
2. “It increases inflammatory markers.”
Lack of sleep ups the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which makes things such as aging progress faster. “When you lack sleep, your skin is worse, your hair is worse, but more importantly, it accelerates the aging of your blood vessels.” Inflammation is the trigger for more dangerous health issues such as hypertension.
3. “It increases your chances of obesity.”
“A lot of our youth are obese and overweight mostly because they sleep less.” A National Health Interview Survey revealed that between 1995 and 2004, the number of adults sleeping for less than six hours increased 5 to 6 percent. “We have a natural propensity to go for [unhealthy food] because of lack of sleep.” This vicious cycle of sleep loss and snacking at inappropriate times cause weight gain which can be hard to reverse.
However, sleep cycles can always be changed. For better shut-eye, it's important to take note of the following:
1. Stimulus control
“Control the environment you have,” advised Dr. Rosalina. This includes room temperature, noise, and the amount of light in the room. You should also go to bed only when you’re sleepy. “If you’re not sleepy, you shouldn’t be in bed.”
2. Sleep restriction
“Limit your time on the bed.” If you’re in bed for more than eight hours, chances are, you’ll get disrupted sleep the following night. It’s also important to avoid irregular napping.
3. Sleep hygiene
“Get sunlight in the morning. Control caffeine. Have a curfew.” Exposing yourself to light at appropriate times (morning until the afternoon) can help you get enough quality sleep. “You need two hours before sleep to actually wind down,” said Dr. Rosalina. “That means you have to turn technology off.” The light emitted by screened gadgets can disrupt your restive state, so avoid tinkering with your phone while in bed.