Are You Getting Enough Sleep? – Check Your Sleeping Habits During National Sleep Awareness Week, March 2-8, 2015!

Hey everyone! It’s National Sleep Awareness Week! (And if you’re like most people, chances are you know you’re not getting enough of it!)
National Sleep Awareness Week is an annual public education and awareness campaign hosted by the National Sleep Foundation to promote the importance of sleep. The week begins with the announcement of the National Sleep Foundation’s annual “Sleep in America” poll results and ends with the clock change to Daylight Saving Time, where Americans lose one hour of sleep. (Which is something I’ve been looking forward to oddly enough.. not the losing an hour part, but the extended daylight hours for working outside in my garden!)
All things considered, the timing of this sleep awareness shindig is almost laughable, considering I have been in the throes of third trimester insomnia (I just can’t get comfortable!!) and I am on the verge of having a newborn that will probably NOT follow in the footsteps of her older sister and sleep through the night. So the concept of “getting enough sleep” is somewhat elusive to me at the moment.
However, it’s something that I think is worth promoting and TRYING to work on and enhance! Getting enough sleep is pretty much as vital to overall health as drinking enough water. (Another area I struggle with, ironically enough.)
Anyhoo, this years National Sleep Awareness poll focuses on “Sleep and Pain” (click here to check out the full poll and study findings). The key findings of this years study are: 
– Good health is related to good sleep
– Pain is associated with lower sleep quality, more sleep problems, and greater sleep debt
In the poll, those who rated their health or quality of life more highly (very good or excellent) reported getting approximately 30 minutes more sleep on average in the past 7 days than those who rated their health or quality of life as poor or fair.  Those who rate their general health more highly were approximately twice as likely to rate their sleep quality as very good or excellent (63% vs. 31%).

So How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The amount of sleep a person needs depends on many factors, including age. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours a night for the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day.
How you feel and perform during the day is related to how much sleep you get the night before. If sleepiness interferes with your daily activities, well, you need more sleep! (Duh!) But even if you’re not snoozing at your laptop mid-day, it’s a FACT that getting sufficient sleep each night will improve the quality of your waking hours.

Too little sleep may cause:

– Memory problems
– Depression
– A weakening of your immune system, increasing your chance of becoming sick
– Increase in perception of pain
Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression— which threaten overall health. Not getting enough sleep is not only associated with the onset of these diseases, but it also complicates their management and outcome.

On the flip side, getting enough sleep will:

– Help your body to repair itself, fight infection and stay healthy
– Promote heart health and keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check
– Reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure
– Improve your memory, understanding and information retention
– Help with weight loss and decrease appetite
– Reduce the occurrence of mood swings, depression and anxiety

Tips For Better Sleeping Habits

Obviously, everyone who struggles with lack of sleep has drastically differing reasons as to WHY they aren’t getting the beauty Z’s. But hopefully some of these tips can help you to get more sleep, or at the very least, improve the quality of sleep that you do get!
As the mom of a toddler and a soon to be newborn, I’m not facing this years National Sleep Awareness week challenges with much confidence that I will “nail it” in getting enough nap time in over the next few months… but I’m gonna try gosh darn it!

To promote better sleep:

– Go to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning.
– Sleep in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
– Make your bed comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music.
– Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
– Avoid large meals before bedtime.
– And, (a reminder), plan ahead so you get enough sleep this weekend! Daylight savings is Saturday night, so you lose an hour of sleep! Plan accordingly!

 Are you getting enough sleep? Are there any helpful tips you plan to implement to improve your sleep quality? Share below!