The busy holiday season doesn’t just cut into our health and fitness routines. It can compromise the quality of our sleep, making us more tired and irritable when we need to be well rested and stress-free.
While experts advise sticking to a smart bedtime routine – going to sleep at the same time each night; keeping the bedroom cool and dark (and free of electronics); avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the hours leading up to bedtime – many of us can’t follow that advice at this time of year.
A recent study found that no matter how much sleep people get, most of us fall into one of four sleeping patterns. Beyond larks and night owls, there’s a third group of people who have strong energy levels both in the morning and at night – while a fourth group feels lethargic all day long. “Despite these differences, all four groups slept for about the same amount of time each night,” PsyBlog reported.
Chronic sleep deprivation, which affects about a third of us, compromises our mental concentration and our health. “Sleep deprivation has huge short-term and long-term effects,” said Uli Gal-Oz, CEO of SleepRate, an app that uses a heart rate monitor to create an individual sleep plan. “In the short term people who sleep less than five hours a night are much more vulnerable to becoming ill. Their response time goes down and their memory is affected.” In the long term, obesity, heart problems, hypertension and skin aging can result.
Night owls are particularly vulnerable to weight gain and obesity. New research shows that those who work at night and sleep during the day burn fewer calories during a 24-hour schedule than others. “Shift work goes against our fundamental biology,” said Kenneth Wright, a sleep expert at the University of Colorado-Boulder, in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know about the importance of sleep – and how to get enough rest at this time of year and beyond:
Get more sleep tips and ideas at Greatist.com.
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