Dr. Ducharme’s Blog December 2, 2019 Importance of Sleep

December 2, 2019
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The holiday season is here. If we look at photos of beautifully decorated homes, fabulous meals and perfectly dressed families we might think it is easy to have a picture perfect holiday. The reality, however, is that perfection is difficult or impossible to achieve and even just navigating successfully through the holiday season can be tough. I am already a bit overwhelmed trying to sort through and delete the hundred’s of emails advertising black Friday sales! Managing all this can be especially challenging if you are not getting enough sleep.

Sleep is so important to our health. Lack of sleep has been linked to inflammation in our bodies which can then lead to a variety of illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity and  increase symptoms of depression.  Lack of sleep can even contribute to decreased libido, weight gain, lackluster skin and puffiness around the eyes…not great symptoms when you are trying to look your best for the holiday parties! Currently, the average American sleeps about 6.8 hours per night. Back in 1910, people slept an average of 9 hours per night. Our current lifestyle promotes a frenetic, constantly plugged in to the world type of life and has been propelled by technologies such as the light bulb and the internet.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 1550 deaths and 40,000 injuries a year in the USA. What a horrific statistic that is entirely preventable.

During this holiday season it is very easy to over eat, over drink and in general, over party. It is also very easy not get enough sleep. Here are a few suggestions to help you get enough sleep during this busy time and all year long.

Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep nightly. It helps to go to bed and get up at about the same time even on week-ends.

Limit caffeine. Not only does it tend to keep you awake, for many it causes increased urine production which means getting up during the night to use the bathroom.

Limit alcohol consumption. Though alcohol can make us feel sleepy, it often disrupts the sleep cycle and lead to multiple waking cycles.

Keep your room cool and dark. Eye masks may sound silly but they really can be helpful.

Avoid using visual electronics for at least 2 hours prior to going to bed.

Listen to sleep meditations to help you turn off your brain and ease into a deep and comfortable sleep. There are many available and I can recommend both Insight Timer and Calm as great apps.

Get some exercise.

Limit high fat foods to avoid heartburn, which can also make sleeping soundly difficult.

 

I realize that you may not be able to actually do all of these.
but, at least try a few. Taking care of yourself will help you feel good and help you and those around you to enjoy this busy season. My family and I wish you all a very happy holiday season.