“Sleep is closely tied to weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and even what we choose to eat,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
As 2023 peers around the corner, people will no doubt begin thinking through their lists of New Year’s resolutions. While healthy eating, exercise, budgeting and others are important, cardiology and sleep medicine experts at Northwestern Medicine are pushing one particular goal for everyone’s lists: get better sleep.
“Sleep is closely tied to weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and even what we choose to eat,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a Northwestern Medicine cardiologist and former president of the American Heart Association (AHA).
“There’s also newer research that shows when we take the previous seven cardiovascular health metrics and add sleep, we can predict cardiovascular disease and stroke risk even better,” Lloyd Jones said. “And we have good strategies for helping people improve their sleep duration and quality.”
“Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health,” said Jennifer Mundt, an assistant professor of neurology in sleep medicine at Feinberg. “Not only does sleep improve our physical health, it is also a powerful tool for improving mental health. When we consistently get enough sleep, it improves how we feel and even reduces the chance we will develop mental health concerns like depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.”
“A lot of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep. A common misconception is that everyone needs eight hours, but the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. Adults usually need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and children and adolescents need even more.
“Our busy lives often make it hard to get enough sleep. It can be tempting to try to catch up on sleep on the weekends, but research tells us that consistency is best. The effects of sleep loss accumulate over time, and we can’t erase those effects by occasionally sleeping longer. Rather than sleeping an extra two hours on Sunday, you’d be better off sleeping an extra 15 minutes each day of the week.
“For people who have a hard time carving out time for sleep, it helps to think of sleep as an investment. The time you put into sleep will give you better energy and alertness the next day. You’ll feel better with a full night of sleep, and in the long term you’re reducing your chances of a host of health problems.”