- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
At Tuck, we define sleep health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being as determined by the quality of an individual’s sleep. Getting good sleep is essential to having good health. Likewise, having good health makes it easier to get good sleep.
Our resources below are designed to help you understand the cyclical relationship between sleep, health, and overall well-being. We’ll explore how sleep impacts your health, and the many ways your life impacts your sleep—from your health and genetics to your work and leisure activities. And if you’re here to improve your sleep health, we have tips for that, too.
Read on to learn everything you’d like to know about sleep health.
You may be unconscious while you sleep, but there’s a lot going on. Every night, your brain keeps on working while your body rests—restoring and repairing your muscles, committing new information to memory, and replenishing your hormones. When you wake up after a good night’s sleep, you feel focused, alert, and energized. That’s the power of good sleep.
Healthy sleepers spend nearly a third of their day asleep. It’s no surprise then, that sleep health makes such a big difference on other aspects of your life. Without adequate sleep, you become cognitively, physically, and emotionally compromised. You increase your risk of developing serious health conditions, and you’re more likely to gain weight. On a day-to-day level, you may find you have difficulty focusing at work or school, or that you feel more grumpy or sad for no reason.
Good sleep essentially serves as your first level of defense against illness, bad mood, and a lower quality of life. People who sleep better have better health overall, as their body is able to more easily regulate their hormone levels and biological functions that control appetite, sexual desire, mood, and more.
We know sleep impacts your health, but how does your health impact your sleep? The relationship is just as direct. Healthy people have an easier time having healthy sleep. Unfortunately, people in poor health tend to have a tougher time enjoying good sleep, which makes it harder for them to be healthier. It’s a frustrating cycle.
People with serious, chronic health conditions commonly suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep movement disorders, and more. Sometimes the cause of these disorders is mental or emotional. The person is living with significantly more anxiety and stress than someone without their condition, and that can develop into worries that keep them up at night.
Other times, it’s physical. People with diabetes and obesity may have higher body weights that make it tougher for them to breathe at night, leading to sleep apnea and related insomnia. Similarly, certain neurological disorders are tied to brain abnormalities that result in sleep problems.
The good news is that if a person is able to better manage their symptoms, they’ll be able to get better sleep. And with better sleep, they’ll have an easier time managing their symptoms.
Sleep issues are quite common in modern society. Even without a diagnosed health condition, the pleasures, stresses, and expectations of modern life can all interfere with sleep health.
We may live in a 24/7 society, but our bodies still operate on a daily circadian rhythm that requires us to get at least 7 hours of sleep. When we engage in behaviors that defy that circadian rhythm, our sleep suffers.
Top culprits include staying up late and using electronics, whether it’s for binging Netflix or answering your work emails. The blue light in these devices tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime, so we stay up even later. Then there’s the things we use to “wind down,” such as exercise, alcohol, and again, our tech devices. We tend to overindulge in these, especially at night, which disrupts the quality of our sleep.
Overworked, overstimulated, and underslept, many of us have no idea how our lifestyle choices impact our sleep—positively or negatively.
Fortunately, getting better sleep does not have to be difficult. There are many life changes, sleep products, and natural sleep aids you can use to improve your sleep health.
Improving sleep often starts with improving your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is like dental hygiene, but for your sleep. Common tips include: following the same sleep schedule every day (even weekends), powering down your electronics well before bedtime, reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex (and no work), and creating a bedtime routine.
There are all sorts of other behavioral hacks for making it easier to fall asleep, and ensuring that the sleep you do get is as restful as possible. For instance, you can boost your body’s natural thermoregulation by sleeping naked with socks on, or taking a warm shower about an hour before bed. Track your sleep cycles with a smartwatch or sleep diary, and you can set your alarm to wake you up when you’re most likely to be in light sleep.
Speaking of sleep trackers, there are plenty of sleep health products and supplements you can use to boost your sleep health, from sleepytime teas to CBD oils.
If you’re a parent, you’re used to watching your child’s diet and exercise. You’re always busy, giving them the support they need to do well in school, and make friends. At home, you’ve created structures to help them thrive and develop as a person.
Sleep is just as critical to your child’s health and development as any of these are. Just like with adults, a child’s immune system becomes compromised when they don’t get adequate sleep. They’re more likely to get sick, causing them to miss days at school. When they do get to school, they’ll have trouble focusing during class if they’re not getting enough sleep at night. As a result, their academic performance can suffer. Sleep deprivation also increases irritability and impulsivity, two behaviors that can interfere with your child’s ability to establish interpersonal relationships and make good decisions.
Sleep is important for kids—and parents, too. When your child sleeps better, they feel better, so you’ll sleep better, too. However, children have different sleep needs than adults. Generally, they need a lot more sleep than we do. Parents can establish healthy sleep schedules for their children, and model proper sleep hygiene, to ensure their children enjoy deep, restful sleep.