Lack of Sleep and Your Health

The month of March is designated as National Sleep Awareness Month.  As our clocks spring forward one hour with the return of Daylight Saving Time, it is important to consider how a small change in our sleep can affect our health.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 of every 3 Americans doesn't get enough sleep on a regular basis.  The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on age, as well as, other factors. According to the American Sleep Association, infants should get around 16 hours of sleep, teenagers need about 9 hours, while adults should get between 7-8 hours a night. 

Unfortunately, about 35% of US adults are sleeping less than 7 hours a night.  Getting less than the recommended 7 hours a night has been associated with increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.  Chronic sleep deprivation has many other negative effects on our bodies and minds including:

  • Increased reaction times
  • Weakened immune system with increased susceptibility to illness
  • Insufficient time for cellular regeneration and repair
  • Decreased growth hormone secretion which can impair injury recovery and wound healing
  • Cognitive impairments such as memory lapses, impaired judgement


Fortunately there are steps we can take to help improve our sleep.   Here is a list of tips for better sleep hygiene.

  1. Have a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day (+/- 20 minutes)
  2. Create a pre-bedtime routine to help calm the body and mind.
  3. Don’t watch TV or read in bed.  Reserve the bedroom for sleeping.
  4. Create a comfortable environment.  – Keep the temperature cooler, the room dark, and have a comfortable mattress
  5. Don't stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.  If you are having trouble falling asleep get up and move around or sit quietly in the dark before trying again.
  6. Avoid daytime naps if possible – they can disrupt your ability to fall asleep later
  7. Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and over the counter medications as they may fragment sleep
  8. Be careful with caffeinated beverages – their effects can last hours after ingestion and can fragment sleep.  Try to drink them before noon.
  9. Exercise regularly – but avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime.

 Getting adequate sleep is critical to our overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.  For more information check out the websites listed below.




Are you having difficulty sticking to your New Year’s resolution to lose weight?   Here are some benefits of weight loss that may help motivate you:

  • Losing weight will decrease stress to your leg joints with every day and recreational activities. 
  • Losing weight decreases the work load of your heart to pump blood throughout your body at rest and during activity.
  • Regular exercise to help with weight loss may also be an effective anti-depressant to help reduce the effects of the “winter blahs.”
  • Losing weight has been shown to improve cognitive functions such as attention, memory, language and executive functions of the brain (impulse and emotional control, adjusting to the unexpected, planning, initiation of tasks, and organizational skills). 


If you need help with your weight loss goals, your physical therapist can help!

Thank you for reading and stay active!



Veronese N et al.  Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2017 Jan;72:87-94.

Rio Paralympics - Athletes to watch!

Almost everyone knows about the Olympic Games, but not everyone knows about or understands what the Paralympic Games are.  The Paralympic Games begin in Rio de Janiero on September 7, with the opening ceremony just like the Olympic Games. 

Paralympic actually means “around” the Olympics and does not identify a specific disability type.  The Paralympic Games are held at a time around the time of each Olympic Games.  The 2016 Paralympic Games consist of 23 sports and over 4000 athletes from more than 170 countries are expected to attend.   Athletes compete against other athletes with similar disability levels.   New to the Paralympic Games this year is canoeing.

In the past, I have had the opportunity to volunteer at many sporting events for athletes with disabilities, including the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games.  I was privileged to see one of my best friends, Larry Hughes, win a gold medal in the discus and set a Paralympic record while I was working!   Although the hours were long (the athletic events were held in the morning and evening due to heat with practice sessions in the afternoons) I wouldn’t have traded the time spent working with such amazing athletes from all over the world.

In Rio this year, one of the athletes to watch is a young woman named Tatyana McFadden.  I have had the pleasure of watching her grow up as an athlete while competing in local wheelchair sports competitions.  Keep you eye on her in all of the women’s wheelchair events, from the 100m to the marathon! 

Another American to watch is Matt Stutzman, aka the “Armless Archer.”  In Judo, look for American Dartanyon Crockett to medal.  On the courts, look for the USA men’s wheelchair basketball to be a force to beat.  You can catch the action at and


* Photo Credit Larry Hughes, 1996 Paralympics Medal Winner


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  Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.