Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sleep is not just for rest

Did you know that there are more than 90 sleep disorders that can cause health problems down the road?!

Murali Maheswaran from Skagit Valley Medical Center came to the Y on Tuesday, March 15 for our Brown Bag Lunch Series to discuss the importance of sleep and how sleep can cause, or cure, some health problems. It is amazing to think that getting quality sleep can help with depression, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, and aches and pains, and more! 

Although the quantity of sleep we get is important, the quality of sleep is essential for our well-being. “Sleep isn’t 1/3 of our day for nothing,” said Murali Maheswaran. "Sleep plays a huge role in our body function." 

Sleep disorder symptoms can be very vague and people go for years not recognizing these symptoms as being part of a sleeping disorder until they “hit a wall.” In our busy lives it easy to give up a few "Z’s" to fit everything in our day. Murali reminds us, “Sleep is not just for rest, it is fundamental for healing our organs.” Sleep is part of our well-being and prevents some health problems; quality sleep can help improve or cure current health issues. Some of the common sleep disorders are Restless Leg Syndrome, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Twitches, and Insomnia.

Many people experience Restless Leg Syndrome, meaning that our body is uncomfortable and cannot fall asleep. When this happens our minds start wandering and thinking about all the things we have to do tomorrow, didn’t get done today, or any other stresses in our lives. It is common not to recognize this as Restless Leg Syndrome, but to rationalize it as daily stress is making it difficult to fall asleep. Murali Maheswaran recommends writing a to do list (or anything that is on your mind) about 90 minutes before you go to bed, which will promote thinking before you get into bed. If you look at your list first thing in the morning, it helps get your day going. If you’re still lying awake in bed after 20 minutes, you should go into another dark or dim room and do something relaxing until your eyes feel droopy.

Tips for a better night sleep:

•Forget a bedtime; pick a weekday and a weekend wake-up time. Starting out you may not be getting the proper amount of sleep, but when your body is adjusted to the new wake-up time, you will start to feel tired 7 to 8 hours before.
• Get up early and go for a morning stroll and don’t turn on your TV in the bedroom at night. Light plays an important role in our sleep and getting light at the wrong time can alter our body rhythm.
• Skip the midnight snack. Getting the proper nutrition and eating on a routine schedule will help you get a quality night of sleep. Eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates at night will help you fall asleep faster.
• Exercise! Not only does exercise help you de-stress it will help you sleep through the night. The earlier in the day you exercise the better, but a nighttime workout is better than no workout at all.

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