I bet you didn’t know that March is sleep awareness month. This makes it a great time to talk about the importance of quality sleep for optimum health.

A number of recent studies have confirmed what I’ve been teaching clients for years; you really do need eight hours of sleep per night. Sadly, approximately 35% of American adults are getting less than 6 hours per night. What’s worse, sleep disorders affect at least 70 million Americans.

A lack of quality sleep disrupts your circadian rhythm, which, in turn, harms your health. Too little sleep is associated with obesity, overweight, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, memory loss and increased risk of death. It works the other way, as well, as in the case of obesity, which impacts sleep by triggering a condition known as sleep apnea. Because it directly impacts immune system function, lack of sleep is also associated with cancer, infections and inflammation.

A fascinating study recently highlight by Chris Kresser, L.Ac, shows that restricting sleep for just a week increases energy intake by 500 calories per day with no increase in energy expenditure. This is equivalent to weight gain of one pound per week!

My tips for improving sleep include:

  1. Get a daily dose of sunshine.
  2. Stop using electronic devices at least two hours before bed.
  3. Make your bedroom super dark and comfortably cool.
  4. Reduce or eliminate caffeine.
  5. Determine your optimal evening nutrition.

Until next time, make every hour of sleep count!