The National Sleep Foundation has announced April 23-29 as its annual Sleep Awareness Week. The focus of the event is on understanding the important role sleep plays in our physical, mental and emotional health and learning how to ensure we get enough sleep. Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can be caused by several different factors, such as anxiety, and Community Reach Center knows that falling and staying asleep isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be.
Why Do We Sleep?
When considering the state we call “sleep,” the first question might be “Why do we do it? Why is there such a thing as sleep?” Interestingly, while research has taught us a lot about the benefits of sleep, experts still can’t always agree on why the state exists. There are several possible reasons, including:
- Inactivity theory. Maintaining a “low profile” at night is an adaptive behavior that keeps us safe from predators.
- Energy conservation theory. We partake in some downtime to conserve energy for when it’s most needed — during the day.
- Restorative theory. Sleep helps our body repair damage done to it throughout the day.
- Brain plasticity theory. Sleeps gives our brains time to reshape in response to the stimuli we’ve encountered during our waking hours.
Health Benefits of Sleep
Combatting insomnia and getting plenty of deep, uninterrupted sleep provides a whole host of health benefits, including many that you might not have been aware of. They include:
- Reduced inflammation. Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep helps decrease the level of inflammatory proteins in the blood.
- Better weight maintenance. Sleep and body metabolism are controlled by the same area of the brain. When you are feeling sleepy during the day, hormones are put into your bloodstream that increase appetite.
- Better mood. Insomnia can contribute to depression and anxiety. And unfortunately, trying to “catch up” on sleep after days of being deficient doesn’t really work.
- Improved memory. While you sleep, your brain is busy making sense of everything you’ve learned during the day.
- Longer life. There are studies that seem to indicate that getting the right amount of sleep (not too little, not too much) can actually help you live longer.
When it comes to “activities” that can improve your health, the inactivity of sleep is at the top of the list!
Stress and Sleep
Stress and anxiety are some of the most common causes of difficulty falling or staying asleep. Here are some of the tips we share at Community Reach Center for decreasing your stress level so you can get better, more restorative sleep:
- Get healthy. When your body is functioning optimally, your mind is better able to resist stress.
- Live in the moment. It can be hard to focus on what you’re doing right now rather than the challenges life is throwing at you. But the more you work at it, the better you’ll get.
- Give yourself a pep talk. You can be your own best cheerleader. Practice encouraging yourself at every opportunity.
- Learning to still your thoughts and calm your mind is one of the best ways to reduce your stress and battle insomnia.
Wishing You Deep and Restful Sleep
At Community Reach Center, we have programs for dealing with stress and anxiety disorders that can cause sleeplessness and insomnia. To learn more, contact Community Reach Center online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.