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  • Kristen Nickels, MS, RDN, LD

Snoozing on Sleep? Everything You Need to Know About Getting Some Shut-Eye


Bodies function on a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm, that

controls critical processes like blood pressure, hormone levels, temperature, metabolism, heart rate, and behavior. In the sleep-wake cycle, light exposure and timing are critical. Tuning into your circadian rhythm and getting enough sleep can help regulate the body’s processes and improve overall health.

Recent studies have correlated lack of sleep to Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and risky behavior. Losing just 1-2 hours of sleep for several nights can decrease function in body systems. Additionally, prolonged disrupted sleep increases the risk of:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Decreased immunity

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Weight gain



And below are some specific examples of things that can prevent or disrupt good sleep:


  • Stress and anxiety

  • Caffeine

  • Some medications

  • Night shift work

  • Light from electronics

  • Alcohol

  • Travel



Of course, avoiding some of these things may not be feasible right now, but it’s still a good idea to assess what changes can be made to improve habits and well-being. So, what can be done to encourage or improve sleep? Consider the following:

  • Avoid long naps

  • Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning

  • Avoid screens (e.g. phones, computers) 1-2 hours before bedtime

  • Exercise during the day

  • Avoid large late-night meals and alcohol

  • Practice deep breathing

  • Listen to soft music to relax

  • Keep the environment around 67°F

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time daily


Are you skimping on sleeping? How might this be affecting your health and quality of life? Good sleep habits are as important to health as proper nutrition and physical activity. Consider some changes you might be able to make to improve things and let us know in the comments what further questions you have about sleep!

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