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Summer  can  arguably  be  the  best  season  of  them  all,  especially  here  in  the  high  country. Welcoming rays of sunshine entice you to walk through these hilly terrains to take your breath away. Although the great exchange for a crisp mountain breeze to fill your lungs with the best Carolina air is priceless. If only a portion of vacation’s rest could carry over into the fall and winter seasons, then it would be perfect. This month is the best chance to further train your summer body and improve in one’s sleep hygiene. According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost 30% of the adult population report sleeping in shorter durations (six or fewer hours of rest each night). This public health concern can  lead  to  increased  risk  for  obesity,  cardiovascular  disease,  and  all-cause morbidity (Insufficient sleep: Evaluation and management, Maski K., Jun 2019). Hence, the demand to enhance one’s sleep quality remains at chief priority in hopes to reverse these unfortunate results.
As  we  all  need  some  sort  of  time  reset  and  rejuvenate  the  purpose  of  sleep  is  largely misunderstood. Some believe sleep’s true intention may be for memory consolidation, restoration, or even energy conservation. Some much takes place during the four stages of sleep, yet our main goal remains  to  only  target  criteria  of  time  to  rest  to  quantify  it  as  sufficient.  Specifically,  the  target time frames  vary  with  lifetimes  as  infants  should  aim  for  16-18  hours  daily,  young  adults  –  adults seven to nine hours maximum, and those 65 years or older seven to eight hours daily. Other factors outside  of  duration  do  contribute  to  a  better  quality  of  sleep  as  well  and  may  reduce  wake  times throughout  the night or delay sleep onset (Stages and Architecture of Normal Sleep, Kirsch D., Jun 2019).
Do you struggle to fall asleep after going to bed? Try practicing a routine before placing your head to a pillow, and be sure to adhere to a schedule. Attempt to awaken within the same hour each morning and use a journal to log your durations if necessary. For those tempted by a daytime nap, be sure  to  limit  it  to  a  half-hour  at  most  before  sleep  inertia  settles.  Otherwise  known  as  a  period described  as  a  diminished  sense  of  alertness and decreased cognition after waking. One of the best and most beneficial routines to train your body to easily attain sleep is to exercise!
The importance to improve bodily health is impeccable, but failing to give attention to sleep hygiene  may  reverse  those  goals  recently  achieved  in  the  gym.  Always  strive  to  sleep  your appropriate  duration  and  set  your  surroundings  so  that  you  may have the best potential rest. Relax and exercise and repeat so you may embrace long term health for lifelong bliss.

Insufficient sleep: Evaluation and management, Maski K., Jun 2019, Retrieved Jul 12, 2019
Stages and Architecture of Normal Sleep, Kirsch D., Jun 2019, Retrieved Jul 10, 2019

By:  Javari Crowther