More Isn’t Better: How Much Sleep Is Best For Our Health?

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More Isn’t Better: How Much Sleep Is Best For Our Health?
August 01
13:13 2016

More Isn’t Better: How Much Sleep Is Best For Our Health?
We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping, yet 1 in 3 adults suffers from insomnia. This means we need to make quality and quantity of rest a priority. A good night’s sleep goes beyond just helping us get through our day. Obtaining quality sleep has been associated with reduced incidence of cancer, stroke and heart disease. It’s also been linked to better cognitive function (less likelihood of dementia & improved memory). Need more reason to get to bed early? Sleep keeps hormones such as cortisol and insulin stable, thereby preventing mid-section weight gain, even warding off type 2 diabetes. To top it all off, getting enough shut-eye makes you 3-5 times more likely to fight off viral infections after being exposed (such as a sneeze in the elevator or a handshake from a sick coworker). So if you want to be healthier, slimmer and live longer, make sure you’re getting the ideal amount of sleep- every night.

How much is enough?
We’ve always been told that at least 8 hours of sleep per night is what we should all be getting. Unfortunately this isn’t quite the case.

A 2009 study published in the journal Sleep found that the benefits of sleep peak at 7 hours per night. So anything less or more on average was shown to be associated with negative health outcomes. This effect was seen for both adult men and women with the most problematic health concerns seen at less than 5 hours or greater than 9 hours per night.

Keep in mind this number is speaking about total sleep hours (not simply hours spent awake in bed). Therefore, if you’re aiming to be most productive with your sleep schedule, here are a few simple sleep hygiene tips to get you to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake feeling rested.

No screens before bedtime.
This includes your laptop, phone, and TV. They all emit a type of blue light that turns off your body’s production of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’. Aim to turn these off at least 30 minutes before heading to sleep.

Get on a routine.
Your body loves consistency. Going to bed and waking up the same time each day will not only get you to sleep quicker, but will also have you waking without the alarm clock in no time (yes, it is possible!). Most people drastically change their bed/wake times on the weekend by going to sleep much later and often not waking until noon, however, this puts a lot of internal stress on your body trying to adjust to the new schedule and plays a role in premature cellular aging. Although this may be unavoidable at times, don’t make it the norm on a weekly basis.

Eat kiwis.
A recent study found that 2 kiwis one hour before bed improved sleep onset, duration and efficiency in adult participants. Though the mechanism is unclear, kiwis do contain several antioxidants and melatonin; these may safely reduce inflammation and ease the body into sleep. Either way, kiwis are a delicious, safe intervention to increase total sleep time.

Now you know: Aim for 7 hours of quality sleep every night. Be consistent and start to feel the health benefits tomorrow morning!

About Author

Dr. Laura Belus, ND

Dr. Laura Belus, ND

Dr. Laura Belus, ND (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) - Licenses & Memberships: College of Naturopaths of Ontario, Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors |

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