Over the past couple of weeks, I have experienced some of the best sleep imaginable. To be perfectly honest, it has been a while since my schedule has been free enough for me to get the proper rest needed.
The push to get more sleep came with a little nudge from the stay-in-place order resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Before having to cope with our “new normal,” I admit that my sleeping habits were poor. I always attributed this to being so energized from the day that getting 40 winks was difficult. With families being at home more and activities being limited, there have been more out-of-the-ordinary sleeping patterns and an increase in food consumption. Even though I have enjoyed being able to sleep, I also realize when and how I choose to sleep can create a multitude of health issues down the line.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Research has shown that on average, adults typically require about seven to nine hours of sleep to function effectively. Lack of sleep can not only prevent you from being productive but also hinder decision-making skills, change your mood, and even interfere with your ability to be creative. While some of us may have underlying issues that prevent us from getting an adequate amount of shut-eye — narcolepsy, sleep apnea, insomnia — that does not mean there aren’t measures we can take to achieve quality sleep.
Here are a few helpful tips or suggestions that may help:
— Create and follow through with a sleep schedule. Designate a time for sleep and follow through. Whenever you have your body adjusted to a schedule, it becomes easier for your body’s clock to normalize and fall asleep at a set time.
— Skip naptime if possible. Who doesn’t enjoy a quick nap during the day? Even though napping may be enjoyable, studies have shown that individuals who nap more frequently throughout the day tend to have issues falling to sleep at their regular bedtime. Napping also increases the chance of staying awake later at night, which can lead to unhealthy decisions. A sleep study conducted on adults showed late sleepers consumed 248 more calories per day. If you must rest during the day, take into consideration how long you will sleep. Ideally, naps should last between 20 to 30 minutes.
— Control the atmosphere of your bedroom. Is your space too bright? Are there any electronic devices that make a lot of noise? Could you use a new mattress or comforter set to maximize your comfort? Is the temperature in your room uncomfortable? All of these are factors to take in consideration when trying to create a comfortable place to rest. Nuisances such as light and sound can be eliminated, and overall comfort can be adjusted to ensure quality rest. Something as simple as purchasing darker curtains or spending a little more on bedding for that extra thread count can make a world of difference and improve your functionality.
For more information on sleeping responsibly, contact Ashley McRae, Extension Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at [email protected], or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.
Ashley McRae is the Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. She can be reached at 910-671-3276 or at [email protected]