Sleep Awareness Week 2021
You've probably heard of Teacher Appreciation Week, Red Ribbon Week, and maybe even Suicide Prevention Week. But did you know there is an entire week devoted to sleep awareness?
National Sleep Awareness Week is a great time to check in which your body and catch up on some Zs. Here is everything you need to know about Sleep Awareness Week and why it's important.
What Is Sleep Awareness Week?
Sleep Awareness Week was established by the National Sleep Foundation in 1998. Its purpose is to celebrate sleep and sleep health. The weeklong event works to educate the public and spread awareness concerning the importance of sleep.
Every year the National Sleep Foundation chooses a new theme. The Sleep Awareness week campaign for 2021 is "Celebrate Sleep Health."
When Is Sleep Awareness Week?
Sleep Awareness Week 2021 takes place from March 14-20. It kicks off right after daylight savings time when people are likely to be feeling the impacts of losing an hour of precious sleep.
Although over 70% of Americans who reside in states observing Daylight Saving Time say they aren't affected by time changes, research disagrees. Evidence from the National Sleep Foundation shows that changing the clock twice annually is detrimental to our body's circadian rhythm, as well as our overall health and safety.
Sleep Awareness Week is the perfect time to take a step back and really look at how your sleep schedule and habits are affecting you.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep Awareness Week stresses the importance of getting enough quality sleep which is essential for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It also spreads awareness of the long and short-term consequences of self-deprivation.
Sleeping is like pressing the restart button on your computer. It allows your brain to close down and reset itself in preparation for the next day. Unfortunately, unlike a computer, our brains require more than a few seconds or minutes to restart.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for a healthy adult. This allows your brain ample time to create new pathways, store memories, and function optimally.
Sleep deprivation can result in foggy thinking, poor decision making, and impaired judgment. It can impact your daily performance by affecting your ability to learn or solve problems.
In addition, scientific studies have shown that lack of sleep is a significant contributor to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, particularly in adolescents.
Sleep plays a vital role in your physical health and homeostasis. While you're sleeping, your body has a chance to repair and recover from the day's activities. Hormones are released to promote muscle growth, regulate insulin levels, and prompt cell regeneration.
Insufficient sleep halts and inhibits those processes before they can come to completion. It leaves you more susceptible to medical issues such as heart disease, obesity, and stroke.
Sleep is also essential for immune system function. You might have noticed when you are tired and run down, you often get sick or feel as though you are going to get sick. Listen to your body when this happens and make sure that you are devoting enough hours to rest and recovery.
According to the CDC, people who regularly slept six hours or less had increased chances of falling asleep while driving. This is a safety hazard not only to the driver but to anyone else in the car or on the road.
Even if you think you are taking precautions, such as drinking caffeine or listening to loud music, these may not be enough. Those suffering from a lack of sleep are prone to experiencing microsleep. These are moments throughout the day when you think you're awake, but your mind has fallen into a brief state of sleep.
If you've ever driven somewhere and didn't remember the trip, you might have dismissed it as "zoning out." However, the more likely culprit was a quick episode of microsleep.
Tips to Improve Sleep
Countless factors contribute to our sleep, from the seasons to our direct environment and daily habits.
In honor of Sleep Awareness Week, we would like to share some tips to help improve the quality of your sleep. Follow these to wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Have a set sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day gets your body in a regular rhythm.
Limit nap time. Short naps during the day can boost energy and increase focus, but long naps can affect how well we sleep. Keep daytime napping to under 45 minutes for optimal effectiveness.
Consuming alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime can make falling asleep difficult. This is also true for foods that are spicy, rich, or high in sugar. Avoid consuming these items 4 to 6 hours before you go to bed.
Regular exercise is great for promoting healthy sleep. Light exercise before bed, such as yin yoga, will help you sleep soundly. Avoid high-intensity exercises right before bed as they boost your adrenaline and can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Comfort is key to a restful night's sleep. Invest in a good mattress, pillows, and sheets. Consider getting a weighted blanket to help you feel more secure and relaxed in bed.
Mitigate noise and light. Sudden sounds and bright lights can disrupt our sleep cycles. Use tools such as eye masks and earplugs to help eliminate these types of sleep disruptions.
Keep the bed off-limits. Your bed should be used solely for sleep and intimate relations, not as an office, hangout area, or dining table.
Sleep Awareness Week 2021
Now that you know about Sleep Awareness Week and all the benefits of a healthy sleep-life balance, set aside some time to rest and recover. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, and you'll find life a bit more focused and productive.
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