It is a new year and with it people are making all resolutions to improve their health and daily life.  This may be the one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is overlooked.  There is new research every day that shows how sleep affects your health.  It is also known that sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and increase in pain. 
When you are looking to change your sleep habits there are usually two things that we look at.  The durations of sleep and our bedtime routine to help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.  Depending on what issues you have the solutions are fairly similar. 

Normal sleep length is anywhere from 6-8 hours. It depends on your age and your specific body needs.  If you have a teen or child who also needs help with sleep they will need more sleep teens need anywhere between 8-9 hours of sleep and children will need more and regular naps.

Creating a strong sleep routine is the best step to help you fall asleep quickly.  There are a few steps to creating a strong sleep routine:

  • Choose a constant bedtime; Your body does not know the difference between weekdays and weekends and so the time you go to bed and get up should be about the same every day.  This does not mean you can not go out and part on Friday night or sleep in on Sunday morning but you do need to be aware that there may be difficulties in going to sleep or getting up the next day.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment; Your bedroom should be a place where you sleep and be intimate and should not be used for work or studying for school.  There should be little clutter as that can distract you or add stress when you are trying to relax and go to sleep.
  • Do a quiet activity 20-40 minutes; Reading, praying or meditating are excellent quiet activities to do before you go to sleep.  Activities like watching television and working on your computer are not relaxing activities because the lights and the activity are stimulating and although you are not moving you mind is.
  • Exercise in the morning; a little activity first thing in the morning will help to get your body and your mind going.  This helps to keep your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm on the 24 hours cycle you want it.

Sleep is one of the easiest changes you can make that can have a profound affect on your health.  A good night’s sleep of 6-8 hours every night will help you feel better, stay healthier, increase your memory and may even help you to lose weight. 


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