Sleep Deprivation Affects Aches and Pains…

Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in America.

I can only imagine it is even more significant of a problem here in the Bay Area. Ongoing sleep debt has a variety of effects on the human body, none of them good. Some say they can get by on four or six hours of sleep per night. I think it’s more likely they have just gotten habituated to the deprivation.

Pain is one side effect; everything just tends to hurt a bit more the longer you go without proper sleep. Your musculoskeletal system needs eight hours to repair and recover. In addition, lack of sleep has been shown to increase cravings for sugary, fatty, and salty foods—just like emotional stress does for some.  

Here are three tips to help you sleep better and more:

Go for at least a 20-minute walk at lunchtime or after dinner. This will help lower your blood sugar, making you more sensitive to insulin. 20 minutes of walking can also moderate stress hormones enough to prevent them from interfering with your sleep. 60 minutes of Zumba works well too! However, 20 minutes of moderate exercise will make a positive change with minimal interruption to your daily routine.Speaking of routine, you should sleep on a set schedule. Set a time to go to bed every night. Work back from the “Zzz” hour and give yourself a little wind-down time before turning out the light. Of course, it’s not always possible, but having a schedule or ritual will start to condition your body to relax and get ready to go to sleep.The third idea is to treat your bed as a place for sleeping and intimacy only. Don’t watch TV, work, or discuss important issues in bed. Busy people can often watch TV until they lull themselves to sleep, or save up discussions of important (and sometimes stress-inducing) issues until they get in bed. Both of these choices have an activating effect on the brain and will interfere with a person’s ability to fall asleep. Beyond the mental stimulation of a TV show, the exposure to the light given off by a TV also affects our ability to nod off.

One more thing: it is actually good to nap. When you have an acute need and can squeeze it in, taking a nap on the job can be a great help. Note to employers—a 20-30 minute nap can be restorative, and bring back productivity to a sleepy head. Napping has been shown to boost creativity and efficacy on the job.

Sleep is part of the DREAM Regime (Diet, Rest, Exercise, Alignment, and Mindfulness) and is something that you can better manage using the tips above.

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