When it comes to sleep, both quality and quantity are important. A chronic lack of sleep results in grave consequences. Poor sleep negatively impacts every system in the human body. It also disrupts the metabolism (bad for weight loss goals), decreases cognitive acuity and focus, affects mood, increases feelings of anxiety, and causes motor vehicle accidents. Further, lack of quality sleep is linked to an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
It’s normal to have a poor night’s sleep periodically. It’s when dodgy sleep patterns become part of the routine that we need to be both concerned and cognisant. Our clients, just like us, don’t always easily achieve valuable shut-eye.
Life keeps us busy – or we keep our lives busy. Either way, you look at it, we sacrifice sleep to be more productive and “get things done”. The irony is that too little sleep makes us less productive, increasingly unhappy, and at a greater risk for a shorter lifespan. The polar opposite of what we want.
However, there are ways to combat and overcome poor sleep issues by practising good “sleep hygiene”. The next time your clients complain of crummy sleep, offer some of these suggestions to help increase sleep fitness.
Choose relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, a hot bath, diffusing essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, and chamomile, or simply listening to soothing music can set you up for a good night’s rest.
Being physically active naturally promotes better sleep. Encourage clients to move throughout the day – not just during a set or pre-programmed exercise time with you.
Although caffeine has been shown to help with alertness, too much and too much late in the day may be problematic. Also, watch out for pain relievers or other medications that might contain caffeine.
Alcohol is a depressant that has sedative-like effects; however, it also causes an individual to wake frequently during the night. Limit the intake before bed or late in the evening.
If sleep deprivation is chronic and interfering with a client’s life (personally and professionally) assist him in seeking medical guidance and treatment. Encourage the use of a sleep journal to note habits and patterns to share with the doctor.
Sleep fitness is just as achievable as physical fitness. In boosting quality sleep, overall health improves and the risk of developing chronic conditions reduces.
*For other sources related to sleep hygiene and health, visit the National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), or the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov).