Sleepless in Chicago

Do you have problems sleeping?  Can’t fall to sleep or wake up numerous times during the night? Notice your workouts suffer if you didn’t get a good night sleep?  If you do, you are not alone.  According to studies, 50% of all Americans are sleep-deprived and 37% are so sleepy it interferes with daily activities. 

What is Sleep?

Sleep is the periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.   ~ Webster’s Dictionary

The Importance of Good Sleep

  • Essential to physical and emotional health
  • Aids body in illness & injury recovery
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Lack of sleep impairs memory, learning, & logical reasoning  
  • Less likely to experience lethargy, low energy, muscle fatigue if you have a good night sleep
  • Enhances mood

How Much?

  • According to doctors, anything less than 8 hours within a 24 period is classified as sleep deprivation
  • Optimal= 10 hours per 24 hours
  • Average number of hours the American sleeps = 6.7 hours a night

It is dangerous not only to yourself but others if you are sleep deprived.  Studies show that after a person is awake for 24 hours straight, their reaction time is the same of someone who has a blood alcohol level of 0.10 (above legal limit).

Fitness and Sleep

  • A study from Stanford University found after increased sleep, participants had improved athletic performance.  When they slept for 10 hours or more for 5 weeks, they performed better on athletic drills compared to when they slept just 6-7 hours. 

Tips for Better Sleep

  • Get on a schedule.  Your body will get used to falling asleep at a certain time, if you get on schedule.  Aim for 8 hour or more of sleep a night.
  • Take naps.  If you can, naps are a great way to recover sleep.  Limit naps to 30 minutes and avoid napping in late afternoon.
  • Avoid caffeine.  The effects of caffeine can take as long as eight hours to wear off, so if you must have caffeine avoid drinking it in the afternoon.
  • Alcohol is not a sleep aid.  Yes, you may go to sleep faster, but you will not get a restful sleep.
  • Exercise.  According to a study, regular exercise in the morning can help relieve insomnia.  If you exercise regularly, chances are you will sleep better-no matter when you do it.  Find the time that works best for you.  SEE “The best time to exercise”
  • Eat right.  Going to bed hungry will keep your stomach wanting food, thus keeping you up.   However, if you eat a heavy meal before bed it can also keep you awake longer due to the digestion process.
  • Don’t smoke before bedtime. Nicotine is a stimulant in your bloodstream which will keep you more awake.
  • If you still can’t sleep, visit a doctor to discuss further options. 

Sources: The New York Times, WebMD

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