Sleep is good for the mind and spirit — and our bones. In fact, research suggests that not getting enough sleep can negatively impact our bone health:
Insomnia increases osteoporosis risk
- Lack of sleep may slow new bone growth, damage cells and encourage abnormal bone marrow
- Obstructive sleep apnea may weaken bones
- Shorter sleep is associated with lower bone density
Sleep has also been shown to impact our whole health, including maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening our immune systems and reducing our risk of serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Sleep can also help improve our mental health and strengthen relationships with others.
Make sleep a priority for better physical, mental and spiritual health with a few simple tips.
Keep Your Circadian Rhythm Healthy
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural clock: It’s what nudges you throughout the day and gives you signals when it’s time to eat, sleep and wake up. You can keep your circadian rhythm healthy with regular exposure to bright light.
That’s easy enough in the summer: A quick walk around the block or taking a book outside to read in the sun’s rays are a great source of sunlight (and a healthy dose of bone-strengthening vitamin D). When the sun’s rays are hiding in the winter, try to find other sources of light, such as an artificial bright-light device or bulb.
Create a Routine
A healthy nighttime routine can help you wind down and relax after a busy day. Going through the same rituals every night can signal to your body that it’s time to slow down and get ready for bed. Focus on what helps you relax, which may include:
- A plan for the next day. It can be tough to disconnect from daily responsibilities. Help clear your mind by jotting down a quick to-do list for the next day.
- Quiet time to practice gratitude. Reflect on happy moments from the day. Capture them in a journal to focus on positivity.
- Time away from phones, televisions and tablets. Blue light from screens can interfere with our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Instead, unwind with a book.
Reach for Healthy Food, Snacks and Drinks
The food, snacks and beverages we drink can have a big impact on sleep quality. Research suggests that eating three to four hours before bed is best for good sleep. Plan your dinner and evening snacks with these tips in mind:
- Avoid sugary sweets before bedtime
- Choose complex carbs, nuts and fruits
- Cut back on alcohol
- Skip caffeine in the afternoon
If you’re struggling with getting a good night sleep or are concerned about your bone health, contact your primary care provider. Your provider can order a bone density scan and other screening tests to help assess your bone health. Together, you can create a plan that helps strengthen your bones and restores your body, mind and spirit with better, more restorative sleep.