Getting enough sleep? The answer can have a big impact on your health.

Posted by: Christie Lanasa
Date: September 21, 2016

I was driving home from work one evening and stopped at a red light. The next thing I knew, my car lurched forward as the car behind me plowed into the back of mine. When I got out to talk to the driver, he was highly apologetic. He said he had just finished working the night shift, and fell asleep as he was driving home. Clearly, he was not getting enough sleep.

Crashes like the one I experienced, industrial disasters, and occupational errors are just a few of the consequences that can result from not getting enough sleep. There can also be significant effects on a person’s body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with sleep insufficiency are at higher risk for diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

In addition, studies show that not getting enough sleep alters activity in some parts of the brain. Those who are sleep deficient can have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, coping with change, and suffer reduced productivity. Sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

Why aren’t we getting a good night’s sleep?

There are many reasons we may not be drifting off as we would like. They range from taking certain medications that interfere with sleep to working out too late in the day. Eating a heavy dinner or watching TV right before bed can also keep you wide-eyed. Regardless, health organizations are calling lack of sleep a public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in three U.S. adults get less than the recommended seven-eight hours of sleep.

Understanding the importance of getting enough sleep is the first step toward making a change for the better. Next, you’ll want to look at your habits and identify areas for improvement. Take a few moments to read the following sleep tips. If made a part of your routine, they can pay off in helping you feel more refreshed and keeping your body and mind healthy.

4 Tips on increasing quantity and quality of sleep

  1. ESTABLISH A PATTERN To encourage sleep, go to bed at the same time every night, and get up the same time each morning. Stop your activities about 30 minutes before bedtime, and practice yoga poses, meditation, or deep breathing to relax. Exercising can help sleep, but not during the two hours prior to bedtime.
  2. ADJUST YOUR ENVIRONMENT The ideal environment for sleep is a relaxing, dark space with no white or blue light. The temperature should be slightly on the cool side. Remove all TVs and computers from the room, and do not read or listen to music in the bed. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable for you.
  3. WATCH FOOD AND DRINK Avoid eating any large, heavy meals before bed. If you must eat, choose a light carbohydrate snack. Minimize drinking liquids after dinner, and do not consume alcohol or caffeine for the four hours prior to going to bed. Avoiding nicotine altogether is a good idea as well.
  4. CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR If after trying these tips you’re still tossing and turning, talk to your doctor about getting a sleep screening and checking for any possible underlying medical or emotional influences to your sleeping difficulties. Also review any medications you are currently taking with your doctor or pharmacist, since more than 100 commonly prescribed medications interfere with sleep.

For more information and help on how to sleep better, call 866-733-6158 or visit

 The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of your health care provider. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to your health care provider.

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