You know why Saturdays are so awesome? It’s because we all get to sleep in. Not just sleep in past the alarm, but sleep past 2 if we want and stay in our pajamas all day! There’s no judgment because you are catching up on the sleep you missed out on during the week, right? WRONG! Catching up on sleep is a myth like a unicorn or a leprechaun or a season of Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith doesn’t almost die. According to Dr. Kiljeet Gill, one of our biggest priority in getting better sleep is consistency. Makes sense, right? I mean, we need consistency to see results, consistency in our diet and consistency in our relationships. Sleep is not like vacation days, we can’t just cash in on sleep when it fits our schedule, we need consistency.
On my quest of ascending the mountain of discovery, I realized I needed an expert to help guide me on the journey. I kind of like a sleep Sherpa, so I called Dr. Kiljeet Gill, a sleep expert, to help me understand how to make sleep a priority in 2018.
Q: What is the number one mistake people make in prioritizing their sleep?
Thinking they can catch up on sleep on the weekends. You need to be consistent in your sleep.
Q: What is the magic number of hours to sleep?
7.5 hours a night consistently.
Q: Can you recommend any natural ways to help catch some ZZZZ’s?
I recommend taking a warm bath or shower before bed to lower your core body temperature. Turn off all electronics two hours before bedtime and try not to watch the clock.
Q: What is the ideal sleep environment?
Cool and dark is the best. Make sure you feel comfortable.
Q: Is technology damaging our sleep habits, and if so, how can we correct these habits?
Yes, technology can be interfering with our sleep. I tell my patients to turn off electronic devices two hours before bedtime. Using our screens before bed is giving our brains too much stimulation and making it harder to fall asleep.
Q: What are the most common health problems caused by not getting enough sleep?
Hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. There is a clear link between poor sleep habits and overall poor health.
Q: What would be your best advice to young adults who are in college or even new to the workforce that are not making sleep a priority?
Not giving your body the rest it needs will actually interfere with your overall performance. Not getting proper rest can lead to you making bad choices, it can also put you at risk while driving.
Q: At what point should someone seek help from a Doctor for their sleep problems?
Seek medical help if you snore or have trouble breathing while sleeping. Also, seek medical attention if you feel like you have insomnia and need sleep aids or have a significant Starbucks habit.
Q: What would you say is the biggest reward for making sleep a priority?
People forget that your mood is easily affected by your quality of sleep. Get enough sleep more constantly each night and you might see a big improvement in your mood. Also, alertness is a big reward for making sleep a priority. We all function better when we are more alert and can make sound and wise decisions.
I was so thankful that Dr. Kiljeet Gill from Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group took the time to talk to me and even more thankful that she never mentioned the consumption of wine and how that could possibly interfere with better sleep, even though I already know the answer to that question. Insert sad face here.
So, after talking to Dr. Gill I started doing my own online research to see how many people struggle with sleep in our country. The huffingtonpost.com (find the direct link below) had an article about this that was shocking. It says more than one-third of U.S adults don’t get enough sleep! Take a look at this bar graph they made to show us how many hours Americans average a night.
That is a tremendous amount of people who lack sleep. I wanted to dig deeper into my own group of friends on Facebook to see why they are not getting their 8 hours of sleep. Hopefully you can relate to these answers. They mentioned Kids, Caffeine, hard time staying asleep, bladder issues, health problems, making other tasks a priority over sleeping, insomnia, Netflix, noisy neighbors, worry about work, wanting to enjoy the quiet after the kids go to bed, stress, catching up on housework, and a snoring spouse, to name a few. Forget about those scary scenes of a zombie apocalypse, we already are a bunch of sleepless zombies just trying to make it through life.
Where do we go from here? We all have legit reasons why we don’t get the proper amount of sleep. Well, the pillows.com team wants to encourage you to make sleep a priority in 2018, add 8 hours of sleep to your goal of getting healthier this year.
Health.com gave us 11 surprising health benefits of sleep:
- Sleep improves memory
- Getting enough sleep makes you live longer
- Sleep curbs inflammation
- It spurs creativity
- It makes you a stronger competitor
- Sleep gives you the attention, alertness and sharp memory you need to get better grades
- Healthy weight
- Sleep lessens stress
- Sleeps helps to avoid accidents and depression.
We all want these things! Let’s not sacrifice our sleep and our health for things that don’t bring us health and joy. Keep these benefits of better sleep in your mind when you pass on going to that party, watching that last episode, or drinking that 4 pm coffee. Exercise, eat well, and SLEEP, that is the magic combination for a healthier YOU! So, add sleep to your new year goals and go ahead and snooze, your body will thank you!