Sleep is crucial to good health

Rest up! The holidays are coming.

By Dr. Matthew Lapp, Columnist, The Times

CTColLogoMattLappIt’s that time of year again.  The clocks have been turned back, the leaves are falling, and the department stores have started decorating, so that must mean that the holiday season is upon us.  Along with the “most wonderful time of year” come to-do lists, deadlines to keep, and a host of added stressors.  With so much to be done, sleep can become pretty low on the list of priorities and that is why I’m challenging you to sleep more this holiday season.

According to Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, “sleep is the most underrated health habit.”  While we sleep, the nervous system repairs and resets the body and prepares for the next day.  Because the nervous system is in charge of coordinating the activities of all of the organs and systems in the body, it should come as no surprise that interrupted or insufficient sleep can weaken the immune system, wreak havoc with blood sugar levels, diminish mental performance, and increase stress-related disorders like anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  You’ll likely see your work performance decrease as well.

My wife and I are fortunate to have a seven month old who sleeps through the night, but we know that many people with young children are not so lucky.  Regardless of the barriers between you and a good night sleep, here are a few tips to help you get some rest.

 #1 Get into a night-time routine and stick to it.

Begin to prepare for sleep by cutting out the caffeine after mid-day (or at least limiting it after dinner).  Start to let yourself unwind the day’s tensions and challenges by taking a hot shower, doing some breathing exercises, or journaling.  Pick a bedtime, set an alarm for it, and stick to it, as though it was an important meeting or appointment.  Turn off the TV and banish any LCD screens from your bedroom, especially if they are used for work.

The bottom line is that your bed should be used for sleeping, not as a second office or planning station.  It’s difficult for your brain to know that it’s time to sleep at a moment’s notice, especially if you’ve been running on red all day.  That is why it’s important to develop a routine that you can follow every night, even if that means putting aside some unfinished business and picking it back up tomorrow.

#2  Create an oasis for sleep.

Every time you enter your bedroom, your body should know that it’s a place for rest.  To help with that, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible while you sleep.  Lights signal your body that it’s time for action and disrupt the pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, so it’s important to eliminate as much unnecessary light as possible.  In addition, our body temperature naturally declines as we sleep, so to mimic that pattern, your room temperature should be no warmer than 70 degrees.

#3  Improve your overall health profile.

Sleep is just one component of optimal health.  Eating a diet of real food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, getting daily exercise, practicing stress-reducing activities, and taking care of your self are some of the best ways to ensure that you are living a healthy lifestyle.

Excess body weight can make it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep, so if you haven’t already, consider seeking the advice of a nutritionist or health practitioner to create a healthy, sustainable plan for weight loss and overall health.

So the next time you find ourself burning the midnight oil in order to get everything done, consider shutting it down and and getting some rest.  In the long run, you’ll likely be more effective and the quality of your work, and life, will be better as well.

Drs. Allison and Matthew Lapp are the owners of Salus Chiropractic Studio in Thorndale. For more tips on living a health, happy life, visit them on Facebook at

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