Alaska Sleep Education Center

What You Need To Understand About Sleep and Your Health

Posted by Lewis Robinson on Jan 11, 2022 10:22:04 AM

Beautiful young woman lying in bed.


Even though good quality sleep is one of the most important factors in staying healthy, there are many who don't sleep as they should. Not only are there many who don't get enough sleep, but there are also lots of adults who don't get good quality sleep when they do finally rest, either. Because today's world is fast-paced and hectic, this can be understandable. However, it is also highly detrimental to maintaining good health.

 While it may not always be easy to get great sleep, the reality is that if you want to stay in good health, then you need to make sure that you take steps to get good sleep. If you are looking to better understand how sleep impacts your health and how to get the kind of sleep that is truly restorative, then here are some things to take into account.


Understanding How Sleep Impacts Health

One key thing that makes a difference when you are trying to get better sleep and improve your health is first taking the time to do your research and understand how sleep impacts health in general. While many may know that sleep has an impact on how they feel, they still may not realize just how much of a difference it can actually make. When you sleep, your body undergoes a wide range of processes and does a lot of work to heal and repair itself.

If you don't get adequate amounts of sleep, it can be hard for your body to repair itself not just from daily wear and tear, but from other health concerns, as well. The upside is, though, that getting better sleep can have many benefits and can often make a noticeable difference for your health right away. If you want to know how to reverse prediabetes or something else like improving heart or brain health, getting good sleep can be an important first step. 


How Your Metabolic Health and Sleep Are Connected

Once you understand how sleep is connected to your health in general, it can be easier for you to see how sleep is connected to more specific health issues. One issue in particular that sleep can have a significant impact on is metabolic diseases, like diabetes and prediabetes. There can be multiple different ways that lack of sleep can contribute to worsening these metabolic issues, as well as ways that these metabolic issues can also take a toll on your ability to sleep properly. 

Diabetes and prediabetes are conditions that occur when your body is unable to process sugar like it is supposed to. Typically, when you consume sugar your body will use insulin to process it. However, if your body is unable to produce enough insulin, then you may struggle with high blood sugar levels. Over time, having high blood sugar can have negative consequences for your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and extremities. When your body doesn't get the ability to heal itself during sleep, it has a harder time processing sugars, and any pre-existing issues that you have will likely become worse. Not only that, but those who don't have issues may begin to develop them if they are already susceptible. 

Additionally, those who get less sleep are more likely to overeat. This is due to the fact that when you lose sleep, your body has trouble producing enough of the hormones that control appetite. Ultimately, this can mean not only eating more in general but also eating more foods that aren't healthy. Naturally, this can cause things like weight gain and a worsening of diabetic symptoms. Over time, this can lead to a bad cycle where it gets more and more difficult to get good sleep, and more difficult to control symptoms of metabolic diseases as well. To try and stop the cycle, taking time to focus on improving sleep habits can be highly beneficial. 


Tips for Better Quality Sleep

If you want to be able to keep diabetes under control, or to prevent things like prediabetes in the first place, assessing your sleep habits and changing some of them can be a good move. First, you need to start tracking just how much sleep that you get. There are apps and phone programs that can be helpful for doing this.

If you don't want to use an app, then simply paying attention to the times that you are asleep and awake can be a good idea, as can keeping a sleep journal. By writing down the times that you sleep as well as how much sleep you get and how you feel when you wake up, you can begin to notice habits and patterns that you have, and how they make you feel. 

After you have gathered some information about your sleep habits and sleep quality, it is time to start doing something with it. For example, if you've noticed that you have more trouble sleeping on nights where you eat close to bedtime, then it can be a good idea to start modifying your eating schedule or to make sure that you are avoiding snacking before bedtime. Additionally, if you notice that you get better rest on days that you are more physically active, then making sure that you include more regular exercise into your daily routines can be important. 

Beyond that, being aware of basic sleep hygiene can be a big help. One part of this is making sure that you have a relaxing environment to sleep in. If your bedroom is too bright, hot or noisy, then it can be difficult to get deep sleep. To help reduce brightness, getting room darkening blinds can be a good idea. If your bedroom is too loud, then opting for some earplugs or noise-canceling panels can be beneficial. Also, to keep your room at an optimal temperature for sleep, it can be a good idea to make sure you turn down the thermostat before you go to bed. 

Another important component of good sleep hygiene is making sure that you avoid spending too much time on your phone before you sleep. Even though scrolling through social media feeds may seem like a relaxing way to unwind, the truth is that these screens can emit a light that signals to your brain that it needs to stay awake. By trying out another calming activity instead, like reading or doing gentle stretches, you can help ensure you are getting your brain in the right gear for bed. 


Some Parting Words

Even though good sleep is highly important for maintaining good health, there are still many who don't get the rest they need, or who don't take their sleep quality seriously. While this can sometimes be understandable in today's fast-paced world, the reality is that making good sleep a priority can not only help you feel better but boost your overall health in a big way, too. 

Sometimes, the cause of poor sleep is medical. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea prevents deep, restful sleep and increases the risk of other health problems. Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea.

Along with diet and exercise, quality sleep is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re practicing good sleep hygiene and still struggling with nighttime restlessness or daytime fatigue, it’s time to talk to a healthcare professional.

Chronic sleep problems may be a sign of an underlying health condition, and the sooner you get help, the sooner you can start enjoying quality rest.

If you think you have sleep apnea, contact Alaska Sleep Clinic for your free sleep assessment at any of our four sleep clinics in Alaska: Anchorage, Wasilla, Fairbanks, and Soldotna.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, CPAP, underdiagnosed, getting beter sleep

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