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Exercise your way to a better night’s rest

How often have you woken unwillingly to your alarm buzzing? According to an article written by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 70 million people are impacted by chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders in the United States. The same article reports an annual $16 billion use of health care costs and $50 billion in lost productivity, both related to insufficient sleep. The numbers are alarming. Did you know you can exercise your way to a better night’s rest?

The National Sleep Foundation has listed exercise as one of the top 10 healthy tips to achieve a better sleep. A few benefits of adequate sleep include improved cardio- vascular health, improved memory and ability to focus, improved immune function, cell and tissue repair, and improved regulation of appetite and weight control. Plus, we feel better and are more pleasant to be around after a full night of restful sleep.

Recent studies show that regular exercise supports the ability to fall asleep faster, experience less waking during the night and enjoy a longer total sleep time. In addition, there is less reliance on sleep medications to help you drift off and reduce wakefulness.

How is this so? According to an American College of Sports Medicine article by Barbara Bushman, exercise can promote sleep by reducing anxiety reducing depression, and increasing the body’s heat production. Increasing your daily energy expenditure along with the psychological benefits of exercise allows you the opportunity to have your sleep needs met.

To promote healthy sleep and daytime alertness, consider implementing a sleep hygiene routine. The Sleep Foundation suggests the following tips:

* Maintain regular sleep and wake times seven days per week;

* Avoid naps;

* Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime;

* Avoid large meals close to bedtime;

* Ensure adequate exposure to natural light;

* Establish a relaxing bedtime routine to prepare your body for sleep such as personal hygiene, stretching, yoga or meditation;

* Don’t dwell on or bring your problems to bed;

* And create a relaxing sleep environment.

Considering the well-established benefits of exercise and the research linking improved sleep patterns with exercise, we have a real win-win situation. Refer to the NHLBI’s Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, available as a free download at http://www. lic/sleep/ for additional information.

Please speak with your primary care practitioner if you are concerned about the sleep habits of yourself or your partner. Jamestown Regional Medical Center offers Sleep Studies to serve your needs.

Your New Year, New You challenge this week is to strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. You will earn 15 points by completing this challenge, and your co-workers will thank you!