Healthy sleep patterns can be a great foundation to a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. However, sleep deprivation can affect your overall wellbeing by causing both physical and emotional problems. Many of these problems can lead to more serious health conditions. As a family nurse practitioner, I would like to share a few ideas about the importance of sleep and what problems to look for if you’re not getting enough of it.

  • Frequent mood swings and feelings of anxiety or depression
    • Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in neurotransmitters which regulate mood. People who are not getting enough sleep generally feel irritable, anxious or depressed due to a hormonal rebalancing we get from adequate sleep.
  • Risk of Heart Disease
    • When we sleep our blood pressure drops. Not experiencing this nightly drop in pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Higher Risk of Diabetes
    • Lack of sleep triggers our stress response, leading to the release of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine, which are associated with insulin resistance.

But there’s good news … there are several ways to better manage your sleep. If you’ve having difficulty getting the sleep you need, try these tips:

  1. Plan your sleep and be consistent – Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. This applies to flipping the clock when your shift ends and establishing that routine. Sleep hygiene requires planning. Make sure potential for interruptions are managed.
  2. Get some exercise – Maintain a three hour window of time when you exercise prior to going to bed..
  3. Avoid large meals before bedtime – The catch phrase here is “eat light at night.” Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol before going to bed.
  4. Create a dark, cool, comfortable and quiet environment – Avoid light by removing electronic devices from your nightly pre-bedtime routine.