FRANKLIN — Franklin VNA & Hospice wants sleep be a New Year's resolution for 2019. While some people may have a list of resolutions, including losing weight, eating better, spending more time with family and reducing stress, an important health habit is getting the recommended amount of sleep.

The National Institute of Health found that adequate sleep can help lower risk for diabetes and heart disease, help with weight loss, improve mood and boost the immune system. During sleep, cells build muscle, regulate hormones that control weight and mood, and build memories. Skimping on just an hour of sleep can cause people to underperform. 

So how much sleep is enough sleep? Most people need eight hours, but that rule doesn't always fit everyone; kids and teens can need up to 12 hours each night. To figure out how much sleep the body needs, get several nights of restful sleep. Often, people sleep too little, and accrue what is known as a sleep debt. Sleep debt is the reason people want to sleep in on weekend. Because of this, the amount each person sleeps in on a Saturday morning may not necessarily be the amount of sleep the body needs nightly. Make it a point to go to bed early for a few nights, in a healthy sleep environment, and see what time the body naturally wakes up in the morning, feeling well-rested and energized. 

What’s a healthy sleep environment, and how is one created? First, keep a consistent bedtime to allow for needed sleep, even on weekends. Make sure the room is truly dark and quiet. This may mean moving electronic devices to a different room, blocking light from standby lights, and ensuring curtains and blinds are thick enough to block light and sound. A small fan or other white noise producer can help if there is a noisy environment outside. Make sure the bedroom is a comfortable temperature; the National Sleep Foundation recommends aiming for 60 to 67 degrees. Cool air will help one fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Lastly, train the brain that it’s time for sleep. Try not to have any activities in the bedroom except sleeping and intimacy. Avoid watching television, and playing on a smartphone or tablet while in bed. Wear comfortable sleeping clothes, and do something restful for a few minutes before going to sleep, like deep breathing exercises or writing in a journal. If one has trouble sleeping and lies awake at night, get up out of bed to read a book for a few minutes, rather than grabbing a cellphone. The light emitted by cellphones and other electronic devices can trick the brain into thinking it's morning, and start the chemical wake-up process.

Getting enough sleep is an important resolution to keep for 2019. It will help lead a more productive, happier, new year with less stress, and may help with weight loss as well.

For more information, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/sleep/healthysleepfs.pdf, and www.sleepfoundation.org.

For more information about Franklin VNA & Hospice, call 603-934-3454, or visit www.FranklinVNA.org.

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