Last night I went to dinner with a friend and his wife. I was very excited to see him; he was an old friend and he had been away for a year.  He is a certified lung specialist decided who decided to go further in his training by studying patients with sleep disorders. The conversation went in all directions until I looked at him and said, “So tell me about sleep. How does sleep affect your health?” I basically wrote down and memorized everything he said. 

1. First of all, most adults need between 7 – 9 hours of sleep. If you are not getting enough, you could be suffering from headaches or even gain weight! I know what you’re thinking: how is that possible? Well, people who work the night shift generally get considerably less sleep, and poorer quality sleep. As a general rule, they are heavier than those who don’t work the night shift. This is because appetite is stimulated. The reason for this is because the hormones (Leptin and ghrelin) that affect feelings of hunger and fullness

2. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep may cause inflammation, created by the increase of cytokine levels in your body. Such inflammation may lead to several heart problems.

Suggestions to get the most out of your sleep:

1. Have a bedtime routine so that your brain is expecting to go to bed.

2. Exercise regularly (exercising for 30 minutes on most days will give you muscle fatigue and make you stay in the deep sleeping stages longer.

3. Keep a cool and calm sleeping environment.

4. Avoid doing too many activities at night. This stimulates brain activity.

5. Cut down on caffeine. Try to consume caffeinated drinks no later 3-4 hours before bed.

6. Take time to relax before bedtime

7. Avoid watching TV or using the computer before bedtime. This will stimulate the retina of your eyes, which in turn stimulates the brain.

Two supplements that have been shown to help with sleep are Vitamin D and tryptophan. Foods that are high in tryptophan include all types of ccokes beans, most seafood, heated milk, bananas, and raw nuts.

Making these few simple changes can go a long way to improving your overall health. You don’t need a doctor to tell you how sleep affects your health. Better quality sleep leads to more energy and productivity throughout the day.