(ARA) - You're paying down your credit cards and making smart decisions about your home and auto loans. But are you overlooking the most important kind of "debt," a debt that you owe yourself to pay off in order to maintain good health? This is one kind of debt that will have a huge impact on your life if ignored, but is easy to pay off with minimal effort.
More than 75 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, many have incurred a "sleep debt," says Dr. Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. "Many people deprive themselves of sleep during the work week, losing an hour or more a night, and try to make up for it on the weekends," says Dr. Breus. "But while you may be able to replace some of that lost sleep each weekend, you can still be sleep deprived, and your 'sleep debt' will just keep growing."
One quarter of the world's population is subject to a one hour time change twice per year. One study by Ludwig-Maximilian University in Germany shows that it is easier for people to adjust to the time change when we gain an hour rather than when we lose an hour. The majority of people, however, do not use that extra hour in the fall for sleep, and this occurs during a season when schedules get even busier for many Americans.
"Unlike our ancestors, who let the sun delineate between the hours of rest and work, we let the demands of everyday life choose when we can sleep, eat and work," Dr. Breus says. "And all of this has an effect on our bodies - we are more stressed, sleep less, and pack away more fat and calories. All this directly relates to our risk for illness and disease."
Repaying your sleep debt is relatively easy and can be one of the most healthful things you do for yourself, Dr. Breus points out. Here are a few tips to help decrease your sleep debt:
* Wake up to the light. Our brains are hard-wired to want to sleep when it's dark and waken with the sunlight. The shift in seasons and our busy modern schedules have many of us trying to wake up in the dark. Dr. Breus recommends sleeping with the shades open and allowing natural light to enter your room and wake you at an appropriate time.
* Once you get up and begin your daily routine, make sure you turn on all the lights. This will help stimulate the optic nerve to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
* Go to bed when your body tells you you're tired. Don't waste the extra hour of sleep we gain when we shift our clocks back in the fall. Additionally, don't add to your sleep debt in the spring when shift our clocks ahead one hour.
* Sometimes, even if you get enough sleep, puffy eyes and dark circles can make you look sleep deprived. Even if you improve your sleep habits, it can take a while for your appearance to catch up. Looking well-rested will help you feel more rested, so try Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream to brighten and depuff. The potent cream uses a combination of natural ingredients, including Panax Ginseng, Caffeine, Vitamin B Complex and Magnolia Extract to combat puffiness and dark circles and help provide radiant, clear skin in the delicate eye area. Visit www.Origins.com to learn more.
* If your sleep/awake cycle is truly healthy you shouldn't need an alarm clock, but you may need the psychological comfort of having a backup wake-up system. In that case, position your alarm clock so that you can't see it once you're in bed. Look for a clock that has an LED time display that can be turned off or on, an adjustable volume control for the alarm, and the ability to have music or an MP3 player connected so you can wake to the sounds of your choice.
* Avoid napping the day before and three days after the seasonal time change. Napping can actually make it harder to fall asleep. Parents, keep in mind that your children will probably take longer to adjust to time changes than adults do.
* Stay active. Studies show that regular exercise helps the body better adjust to time changes, so continue your workouts throughout the seasonal transition. However, exercising too close to bedtime can have an over-stimulating effect, so schedule your workout several hours prior to turning in.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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