Sleep – you know you need it, you know it’s important, and you know that without it, you’re in for a long day.
Considering the average person spends 26 years of their lives sleeping, it’s crucial to do your part to ensure a satisfactory slumber!
While Dr. Avinder recommends between 7 1/2 and 81/4 hours of sleep a night, he recognizes there are some variations in what works for certain individuals. One person might be perfectly fine after six hours, while another needs nine to function. Overall, we should aim between the seven and eight hour mark.
What happens without sleep?
Beyond feeling tired throughout the day, long term lack of sleep can have serious complications, including increasing the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also increase the risk of gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as heart burn and upset stomachs.
For those struggling with their weight, sleep challenges can also be a contributing factor.
“Not getting enough sleep can increase your body’s resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates your glucose levels by helping your body’s fat cells absorb the glucose. Cells absorbing too much glucose end up converting it into fat, causing weight gain. Your body can also release hormones that will make you hungry, leading to a higher consumption of calories, further encouraging weight gain,” Dr. Minhas explains.
How to get a good night sleep:
The first piece of advice Dr. Avinder Minhas gives is maintaining your waking time.
“Stick to waking up at the same time every day. On weekends, only let yourself sleep in an hour later than you normally would. Our brain becomes accustomed to this schedule and if you’re consistent you’ll start getting tired around the same time at night and your body will know when it’s time to wake up in the mornings – consistency is key,” Dr. Minhas explains.
And if you’re struggling to fall asleep, make sure you only go to bed once you’re actually tired!
Caffeine and alcohol consumption should be considered as well. Even having a cup of joe early in the day can leave caffeine in your system as you try to sleep that night.
And as alcohol affects sleep stages, and can lead to broken sleep, finishing your beverage at least five to six hours before bedtime is advised.
You may not need to eliminate caffeine and alcohol altogether if you aren’t having too much trouble sleeping. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly – with no heavy exercise within 6 hours of bedtime – for better sleep quality.