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40 Navy | Winter 2017 T here's an Irish proverb that goes something like this, "A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." Lately, I've been having conversations with cowork- ers, family and friends who've shared their troubles with getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up during the night. Poor sleep health is a common problem, with 25 percent of adults in the U.S. reporting insufficient sleep or rest. We stay up too late, overstimulate ourselves with late night activities (like television and cell phones), and get up early. e truth is that good sleep hygiene practices can prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders. e Department of Health and Human Ser- vices recognizes the im- portance of adequate sleep, which is just as important as physical activity and nu- trition. One of the goals of Healthy People 2020 is to increase public knowledge of how adequate sleep and treatment of sleep disor- ders improves health, pro- ductivity, wellness, quality of life and safety on our roads and in our workplaces. Sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders influence basic patterns of behavior that negatively affect fam- ily health and interpersonal relationships. Fatigue and sleepiness can reduce productivity and increase the chance of accidents at home, while driving or at work. Adequate sleep is important in helping fight off infection and supports endocrine, metabolic and neurological functions that are critical for mainte- nance of individual health. For many people who are not getting an adequate night's rest, those few hours of sleep can add up to weight increases. According to research, sleep depri- vation activates a small part of the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that is involved with appetite regulation. ere are two critical hormones that are involved in regulating food intake: Leptin, which sup- presses appetite and Ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Insufficient sleep appears to have a negative impact on our body's regulation of these hormones, which results in lowered levels of Leptin and higher levels of Ghrelin. Sleep-deprived people end up eating more because they are hungry. Adequate sleep and exercise along with a sensible diet can help people achieve their weight goals. Sleep deprivation can also lead to increased risk of falls due to daytime drowsiness, especially for older individuals. Children and teenagers can also suffer from sleep deprivation and need to learn the importance of good sleep habits. Psy- chological stressors may make it difficult to fall asleep or to stay asleep. It takes time to wind down and turn off all of the noise from the day. De- veloping a pre-sleep rit- ual can help to break the connection between stressors from the day and bedtime. Bedtime rituals for children and teens are important and help them develop healthy habits to carry into adulthood. Rituals can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as an hour, and can include listening to quiet music, taking a hot bath, meditating or some light reading. ere are tangible things that can be done to improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep. HEALTH TALK The Importance of Sleep COURTESY OF KATHRYN SERBIN; PUBLICIT Y SHOT FOR THE NAVIGATOR (1924) Avoid alcohol, caffeine and spicy or sugary foods four to six hours before bedtime, and try to avoid large meals right before hitting the rack.

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