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Why It's So Important to Your Health to Get a Good Night's Sleep

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Why It's So Important to Your Health to Get a Good Night's Sleep

As kids, a nap was the last thing we wanted in our day. As adults, many of us might be rethinking that argument. Lack of sleep contributes to hunger, stress and just plain tiredness during the day. Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, registered dietitian at Cooper Clinic explains some common side effects of sleep and what that means for your body and mind.

Sleep and Work
Sleep is a large part of managing stress related to work. In fact, 38 percent of workers experience fatigue, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Meridan advises getting seven hours of sleep during the week and nine hours on the weekend. The proper dose can help you be more alert, creative, organized, solve problems better and help with memory loss.

Sleep and Hunger
There’s a big tie between how much we eat and how much we sleep. Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night stabilizes your blood sugar to control cravings. When you don’t get enough sleep leptin levels decrease and ghrelin levels increase. Ghrelin, which is created in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates your appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full. You also might have a stronger preference for calorie-dense foods, fats and sweets.

Meridan suggests maintaining a healthy diet and eating tryptophan-rich foods before bedtime, which create serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic, relaxing your brain. These include milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, chicken, turkey, peanuts or bananas.

Sleep and Exercise
A Stanford University Medical School study found that men and women who were 50-74 years old and exercised at least four times a week fell asleep 15 minutes earlier and slept 45 minutes longer. We know that daily physical activity can result in a longer, healthier life. But we also know that it positively impacts your sleep. Meridan suggests striving for 30 minutes to one hour of exercise daily.

Sleep Tips and Tricks
It takes time to nail down a perfect sleeping pattern. In addition to exercise and eating smart, Meridan offers these helpful tips when it comes to getting some shut-eye.

  • Turn off work at night
  • Avoid violent television before bed
  • Relax an hour before bed
  • Take a hot bath or shower
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room

Make sure to get in some exercise, eat appropriate foods before bed and take time to relax. Sleep well!

For more information on Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.560.2667.