January 20, 2014 by healthwisehome
Welcome to Week 3 of the Health Wise Home “6 Weeks to a Healthier You” Challenge! For those of you that are just now joining us, this challenge is FREE and open to anyone that follows this blog or the Health Wise Home Facebook page. This IS NOT a weight-loss, detox, or diet plan. The Health Wise Home “6 Weeks to a Healthier You” Challenge is a LIFESTYLE challenge; an opportunity to start making small, positive changes in your daily life that can lead to SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS in your overall health when consistently followed over time. We will not be counting calories, fat grams, or carbs. Instead, our focus is going to be on gradually ADDING healthy lifestyle habits into your daily life.
Week 1’s challenge was to DRINK MORE WATER throughout the day and to only consume “real” beverages. Last week’s challenge (Week 2) was to EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AT EVERY MEAL, and in-between, too (snacks)! For those of you that have been following along and participating, how are things going? Don’t forget to “like” the Health Wise Home facebook page and follow along for daily information, tips, and check-ins.
Week 3’s challenge is to GET ENOUGH SLEEP (7 to 8 hours for adults). Now, as a mother of three young children, I can see some of your eyes already rolling at my suggestion that you FOCUS on getting more sleep. Trust me…I know that it isn’t that easy. I didn’t get a solid night’s sleep for almost seven years, from the time that my oldest was born until my youngest was about 2 years old. And there are still some nights, even though they are now 5, 7, and 10 years old, that I don’t. I know that sleep is a luxury to many of us — a new mother, parents of young children, or anyone that suffers from a sleep disorder (an estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder according to the Institute of Medicine). I am also almost certain that I am leaving others that belong in this category out, too. The point is, getting enough sleep isn’t always a matter of choice, and I get that.
Insufficient sleep has become a public health epidemic throughout the U.S. Two recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research provide further evidence of this alarming fact. The analysis determined that, “among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, 35.3% reported less than 7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period, 48.0% reported snoring, 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month, and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month”.
Did you know that the National Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving to be responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States. Additionally, the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported that chronic sleep loss “can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power”. It has also been found that individuals who do not get sufficient sleep significantly raise their risks for diabetes and obesity.
While more research is needed to explore the links between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP on a regular basis is important.
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
So, how much sleep do we need? Well, that number varies between individuals and generally changes as we age. The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens need 9-10 hours, and adults need between 7 and 8 hours. For this week’s challenge, I want you to focus on getting as close to the ideal “7 to 8” hours as possible. If you currently only get 4-5 hours, aim for 6 hours. If you have a newborn or young child in your house that keeps you up at night, try finding ways to increase the amount of sleep that you (and your child) gets each night. And if you are a night owl like me, who gets wrapped up in your ability to accomplish unmet tasks from the day when everyone else in your house is asleep, work on finding a healthier balance that will allow you to get more sleep.
Just like previous weeks, I encourage you to include your entire family in on this week’s challenge. Sufficient sleep is important for everyone’s health and overall well-being!
Don’t forget to stop by the Health Wise Home Facebook page for daily tips, advice, and other helpful pieces of information to encourage and motivate you to meet your weekly challenge. I will also do a Facebook “check-in” each day to allow you to share any successes, struggles, questions, or advice with our Health Wise community. Good luck!
* Disclaimer: You must not rely on the information on this site as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this site.