Want a long, healthy life? Get better sleep

By Andie Garrett, Guest Columnist

Could an extra hour of sleep really make a difference in your life? According to the experts, the difference is significant.

As our lives get busy, sleep is often the first thing to go. However, science shows that the quality and duration of your sleep, will determine the quality and duration of your life. Despite this fact, 30 percent of adults report sleeping less than six hours a night.

Lack of sleep has been linked to an increase risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and has even been shown to increase the risk of cancer. So with all the increased risks, how do we get the sleep we need? Here are six tips to help you get your best sleep ever:

  • Cut the caffeine. Caffeine has become the most commonly used drug, especially for the sleep deprived. Make it a goal to stop sipping the caffeine by 2pm, to give yourself plenty of time for the effects to wear off.
  • Stretch for sleep. Gentle stretching or some light yoga before bed, can help reduce your blood pressure and ease your mind as you prepare to sleep. Tonight, try the “Reclined Butterfly” pose. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. Place your arms by your side with your palms up. Close your eyes and inhale through your nose while slowly counting to four, then exhale while counting back down to one. Do this for 5-10 minutes, or until you feel relaxed.
  • Set the Mood. Dimmer lights right before bedtime can help signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down. Consider installing a dimmer switch, or replacing the lights in your bedroom with lower watt bulbs.
  • Turn off the tech. We are all guilty of sending that last text or email, or lying in bed surfing social media as a way to “wind down”. However, use of technology actually has the opposite effect, and can make it harder to shut down for the night. Challenge yourself to disconnect at least an hour before its time to sleep. Consider investing in a real alarm clock, and leaving your phone in another room, to remove the technology temptation all together.
  • Create a ritual. Consistently doing the same things at the same time every night, helps reinforce the body’s sleep-wake cycle. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, (even on the weekends!) you will enjoy a better, deeper night sleep.
  • Physical Activity. Regular exercise can also help promote higher quality sleep. But be careful not to work out too close to bedtime. For ideal sleep, get in the habit of exercising daily in the morning or right after work.

At Anytime Fitness, we have great resources to help tackle your sleep problems, as well as many other health concerns you may be facing.For more information, call us at 503-475-9013, or visit us at our new Washougal location, 1700 Main St., Suite 148.

Andie Garrett is a certified and licensed athletic trainer who earned her bachelor’s degree in science from Brigham Young University in Utah.