Sleep for Better Health

Sleep for Better Health

Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together
— Thomas Dekker

Like many others, getting enough sleep and  good quality sleep was one issue that was very difficult for me through much of my adult life. My sleep was often interrupted with thoughts, projects or just that flood of ideas that ran through my head preventing me from going to sleep. Once asleep, (if I really was?), I would wake up every few hours and look at the clock.  Doze and look at the clock became what I considered to be a normal sleep pattern for me. From a personal standpoint, my perception of sleep was that it seemed like a waste of valuable time. A non-productive part of my day. Not until my mid-40’s did I take heed of what I knew about sleep to be healthy by choice.

In our fast paced, highly productive lives, we often sacrifice sleep for other activities. This is due in part to this perception of sleep as a non-productive endeavor, when from a physiological and health standpoint it is the most productive time of our day. Work that must be completed, a project that just must be finished, studying for that mid-term, getting up an hour early to exercise or miss that rush hour traffic on the way to work are a few of many reasons we rationalize not sleeping but for the most part it is our perception of sleep. Sleep is anything but a waste of time. While many people think of sleeping as the body “shutting off” until morning, nodding off activates an organized, complex process to help you feel rested and healthy the next day. 

Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University, is the world's leading authority on sleep. For this pioneering work in a previously uncharted field, he is sometimes referred to as the father of sleep medicine. To quote Dr. Dement, “Healthy sleep has been empirically proven to be the most single important determinant on predicting longevity, more important than diet, exercise and heredity.”

"I used to suggest that sleep is the third pillar of good health, along with diet and exercise," says Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. "But I don't agree with that anymore. Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for health."

In a 2015 CNN documentary Sleep with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he states, “If you have an extra hour in the day to exercise, you would be well advised to use that hour for sleep, as it will provide more health benefits.”

Given all the scientific evidence to the importance and benefits of a good night’s sleep we are a sleep-sick society, ignorant of the facts of sleep and the price of sleep deficiency.

It is estimated that nearly 70% of American’s do not get adequate sleep. National Institute of Heath research studies on sleep state that the average American gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Cognitive performance after less than six hours of sleep is equivalent to getting no sleep for 48 straight hours.  Cognitive performance relates to mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning. 

Sleep Deprivation Statistics from the American Sleep Association:

37% of 20-39 year-olds report short sleep duration

40% of 40-59 year-olds report short sleep duration

35.3% adults report <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period.


A good read on the importance of sleep and ways to get a better night’s sleep are elucidated in Dr. Dement’s book The Promise of Sleep.

One thing I do and suggest others do is to make sleep a priority. It may sound funny, but schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your "to-do list" and cross it off every night. Don’t make sleep the thing you do only after everything else is done. Stop doing other activities so you get the sleep you need. I realize that this is not easy for many of us, but give it a try and you will see that with more and better quality of sleep your mood, effectiveness and productivity will improve.

Sleep Matters and getting enough sleep is one way that we all can be healthier, more productive and happier.

Tips for a better night's sleep: 

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed. Avoid reading on electronic devices.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Healthy Sleep System

Since you spend a third of your life sleeping it is as important to choose healthy bedding as it is you living room couch and matching drapes. . “Most mattresses contain a petroleum-based polyurethane foam and flame retardants that release volatile organic compounds, which can pollute your bedroom air, irritate your respiratory system, and cause skin problems and other allergies,” saysTasha Stoiber, EWG senior scientist. Stoiber’s tips:

Look for natural materials: Choose a mattress that include at least 95 percent organic content, such as cotton, wool, or natural latex. 

Avoid fire retardants: Chlorinated Tris, a chemical flame retardant commonly found in mattresses, sleeping mats, pillows, and futons, is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Wash and cover: “When you’re tossing and turning in bed, you can stir up a lot of dust in your mattress that can potentially cause allergy issues. It’s important to frequently launder your bedding, and vacuum your mattress once in a while.” Also, use a mattress cover, preferably one made of tightly-woven, organic cotton, to avoid dust mites.

Steer clear of additives: Mattresses and toppers treated with antimicrobial solutions and added scents can contain hidden carcinogens.

I recommend a visit to our Kenko Sleep Shop for the best in healthy choice sleep. 

Sleep is an essential physiological process. 

Get 8 hours a night of good quality sleep. It’s one way to be Healthy by Choice.

Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year olds
— JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom, 2002