Happy Friday, my friends! Welcome to my 29th One Simple Change post.

I think it’s high time we talk about SLEEP. I have a fair amount to say on this subject, so I am going to divide this post into 2 parts. Here in part 1, I’ll discuss why sleeping well is essential to good health; I’ll also define a good nights sleep. In part 2, I will talk about reasons why you might not be sleeping well, and I’ll offer some tips for improving your sleep if it’s less than ideal.

Let me kick this post off by letting you know that I am not a sleep expert (I am pretty sure you already knew that). I am just someone with an educational background in holistic health which means I’ve long understood that good sleep is intimately connected to good health. Also, I’ve done a lot of research on sleep over the years to help out various members of my family who struggle in this area.

Why is sleeping important?

Deep rest for a good many hours each and every night allows us to be at our best every day. When we don’t sleep well, things like our attention, concentration, memory, motivation, and mental performance will suffer. We also, obviously, feel tired when we don’t sleep well. Who hasn’t missed out on some winks and then felt crappy the next day? I personally feel terrible when I don’t get enough sleep.

But good sleep is needed for much more than your mind and for energy…it’s a time when muscles and other bodily tissues, as well as your organs, are undergoing restoration. Sleep is also a time when hormones that regulate the immune system and the appetite/metabolism are being produced. I don’t want to get into all the hormones involved because it’s too much to talk about here, but suffice it to say that not getting enough sleep can actually make you sick (poor sleep has been linked to health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and depression). Not sleeping enough can also negatively affect your weight.

What is a good night’s sleep?

For most people, a good night’s sleep is the ability to fall asleep right away and sleep deeply for at least 8 hours. Some individuals may be able to get away with an average of 7 hours per night, but less than that probably isn’t enough. If you have a history of sleep deprivation, a lot of stress in your life, or if you are dealing with an acute or chronic health issue, you probably want to strive for an even longer sleeping stretch on a regular basis…you might need as much as 10 hours per night. Note that these numbers are what I am suggesting for adults…children have different sleeping requirements.

If you always have trouble falling asleep or if you habitually wake up in the night and can’t fall back to sleep, then you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. If you toss and turn and wake up a lot, then you’re not getting a good night’s sleep either.

Many experts in the field of natural health believe it’s best to get to bed by 10 pm on a regular basis because your organs (including the very important adrenal glands) rest and replenish in the early nighttime hours. This is hugely problematic for many people…including myself…especially on the weekends when the tendency is to stay up late and then sleep in. While it may seem like you’re getting enough sleep if you stay up until 2 am and then sleep until 10 am, it’s not nearly as good for your body as if you sleep from 10 pm until 6 am.

So what about you? How many hours do you sleep each night? Do you get to bed early? Do you feel rested during the day? Are you all set in the sleep department or is this something you need help with? As I said above, I’ll be publishing a part 2 to this post with recommendations for how to get a better night’s sleep naturally. Look for that post in a couple of days ;)

Sources consulted for this article:
Sleep Away the Pounds: Optimize Your Sleep and Reset Your Metabolism for Maximum Weight Loss
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival
The Schwarzbein Principle, The Program: Losing Weight the Healthy Way
Take Control of Your Health

 

15 Comments

  1. 1

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — August 10, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

    This is a great post and so many wonderful points are made. I agree sleep is important, though I have never been one to sleep that much. I’m an early riser, but I also don’t go to sleep particularly early either. I should probably make more of an effort to get to bed a bit earlier than I have been. We’ll see how that goes.

  2. 2

    LiztheChef — August 10, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    Terrible insomnia ever since menopause. Since I have joined an exercise studio, I’m sleeping better – but not great.

  3. 3

    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — August 10, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

    Perfect timing for this post – I’ve been going to bed later than usual all week and I’m feeling it tonight. Planning for a 10 pm bedtime so I can get my 8 hours!

  4. 4

    Monet — August 11, 2012 @ 12:11 am

    Ah, I totally needed this post. I’ve been function on 6.5 for the past week and I kept on wondering why I felt so grouchy and tired today. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

  5. 5

    Ken┃hungry rabbit — August 11, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    I’ve recently rediscover the importance of a good night sleep, when my fitness guru said out loud in class “Sleep is the best ‘exercise’ you can do for your body”. I can’t wait for part 2 to get some insight into art of sleeping well.

  6. 6

    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — August 11, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

    I am most definitely TERRIBLE at getting enough sleep each night. Lately I consider myself lucky to get 6-7 hours per night, but know that I function best if I get 8-9 hours per night. Thank you for this post Winnie – I consider it a gentle reminder to get my act together and really start trying to get a good night’s sleep!

  7. 7

    Paula — August 12, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    Last night I got 8 full hours of sleep for the first time in I don’t know when. Normally I get in 7 hours. I’m a night owl and I found it very interesting that you said it is better to get your required amount of sleep by going to bed earlier rather than later.
    I’m looking forward to part two of this post!

  8. 8

    Jennifer (Savor) — August 14, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    I have not gotten one good night’s sleep in 4.5 weeks and it changes everything. A few nights sleep and I would feel like myself again/

  9. 9

    DessertForTwo — August 14, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

    I am such a believer in getting enough sleep. We routinely get plenty of sleep and eat well, while our neighbors & coworkers are always battling some kind of cold or flu. I swear sleep is as good as a flu shot!

  10. 10

    El — August 14, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    Of course i’m up reading this at an absurd hour. Point well taken. Thanks!

  11. 11

    One Simple Change: Get a Good Night's Sleep (Part 2) | Healthy Green Kitchen — August 17, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    [...] One Simple Change: Get a Good Night’s Sleep (Part 2) Healthy Lifestyle, One Simple Change, Recipes Pin It Wow. I cannot quite believe this is post #30 in my One Simple Change series! But it is…and today, as promised, I want to follow up on last week’s post about Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. [...]

  12. 12

    Julie S. — August 26, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

    These are great tips. Sleep is vital to good physical and mental health.
    I have a sleep disorder and it really affects my health, how fast my body ages, and my memory. I sleep for 8 hours, but my body does not go into the deep, restful, repairing stage (stage 4). It’s a struggle every day. I tell anyone who is always tired, always sore, foggy brain, depressed, and wakes up every day feeling as if they never slept to spend time in a sleep lab. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are curable and there are others out there as well. For some disorders, there is no “cure” but just knowing the reason why you feel lousy can help a lot. If you don’t have insurance, many universities have sleep studies; you’ll get some free medical tests including blood work, and get paid to sleep in the lab.
    Even simple things can help. Some nights, my husband brushes my hair before bedtime, and the tingly nice scalp feeling relaxes me and takes my mind off of the physical pain. Little things like that really help get your night’s sleep started with a calm mind and good feelings. We also found that sleeping in separate bedrooms works best for us. Our sleeping habits just are not compatible or conducive to rest for either of us.

  13. 13

    One Simple Change: Manage Your Stress | Healthy Green Kitchen — October 28, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    [...] One Simple Change posts on the importance of sleep and how to sleep better…you can read them here and here. Bottom line: get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and more if you are very stressed. [...]

  14. 14

    Eating for Health and Happiness, plus Yellow Cake with Lemon Curd | Healthy Green Kitchen — April 25, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

    [...] Or carbohydrates. Don’t deny yourself real foods that you enjoy. Move your body! Get lots of deep sleep, and some sunlight. Learn to properly manage stress. Strive for balance in terms of what you [...]

  15. 15

    Sebastian Chesbrough — July 4, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep–wake cycle—your circadian rhythm—is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. If you keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, you will feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. This holds true even if you alter your sleep schedule by only an hour or two. Consistency is vitally important.:,*:

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