Sleep awareness week is a good time to consider the benefits of nightly rest

If there was ever a good time to get an extra hour of sleep it’s during National Sleep Awareness Week, which ends on March 10, 2013. That also happens to be the day when the clocks are pushed forward an hour for the start of Daylight Saving Time.

But instead of shrugging away the lost hour of sleep that the change in clocks entails, the National Sleep Foundation recommends people take the time to consider the benefits of getting enough sleep on a regular basis. For those who routinely get up feeling as drowsy as when they went to bed, this is an opportunity to begin a routine to ensure sound sleep.

According to WebMD, sleeping well helps people deal with stress better, stay focused on daily tasks and allow their bodies to become rejuvenated. Without about seven or eight hours of nightly sleep, most adults will experience impaired memory, fatigue, decreased immune response and the potential for depression and increased pain when ill.

Nightly stages
A normal night’s sleep is broken into different stages, which go through several cycles during a typical night’s rest. Drifting off takes up to 15 minutes, followed by light sleep, which accounts for about half the typical night’s slumber. The delta stage of deepest sleep is estimated to last only 15 to 30 minutes.

But rem sleep, the “rapid eye movement” stage when dreams occur, is what benefits the body most from resting. It’s considered by sleep experts as the most beneficial sleep of the night because it is when the body and mind are both restored from the stresses of daily life.

Sleep-friendly atmosphere
There are many reasons why people don’t get enough sleep. They may be resting on a mattress that doesn’t offer their bodies proper support. Side effects from certain medications may keep them awake, as will worrying about their problems. Many people are affected by drinking caffeinated drinks, working on a computer or playing video games too soon before bedtime. There may not be enough darkness in their bedroom or too much noise coming from the surrounding area.

In addition to controlling issues such as drinking less coffee and turning off electronics before sleeping, the Mayo Clinic suggests creating the most conducive atmosphere for rest, which it defines as cool, dark and quiet. Ear plugs or room-darkening shades may be needed.

Other suggestions include limiting daytime naps to 10 to 30 minutes so they don’t interfere with night-time sleep. Setting a regular time for going to bed and getting up in the morning also helps. A pre-bed routine should be observed, from taking a warm shower to reading a book, to ease the transition from the day’s activities to slumber.

Dietary supplements such as Dr. Pinkus’ Sublingual Sleep from Dr. Newton’s Naturals can aid sleep. This fast-melting melatonin tablet promotes restful sleep with the calming effect of magnesium and vitamin B-1 and powerful antioxidants that help slow aging.

Solving sleep problems
Finding ways to manage stress is one of the best ways to solve bouts of insomnia. Planning out the day by setting priorities and organizing tasks may take some daily pressure away. Mayo Clinic suggests people write down issues they are concerned about before they turn in at night so they can set aside their worries until the next day.

If the lack of sleep persists, it may signal an underlying medical problem. Health providers should be alerted so they can treat the problem and get people back to benefitting from the rejuventation that a good night’s sleep can provide.