http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/op-ed-study-better-sleep-related-to-good-health/article/427511

Op-Ed: Study says better sleep related to good health

Posted Mar 5, 2015 by Elizabeth Brown
A new poll by the National Sleep Foundation finds that healthier people tend to have better sleep, and that pain and stress levels contribute to people having less sleep and worse sleep quality.
The foundation published its findings as part of National Sleep Awareness Week (which takes place March 2-8, 2015) to promote the importance of sleep.
According to the foundation's survey, those with good or excellent health gets about 30 minutes more sleep than those who have poor or fair health. Healthier people were also about twice as likely to rate their sleep quality as very good or excellent.
On Sunday, clocks will spring forward by an hour and millions of Americans should make a few preparations to better adjust for daylight saving time (DST).
Studies show that feeling comfortable in your own bed can help you doze off and enjoy the healing qualities of rest.
This week, Tempur Sealy and the University of North Carolina's (UNC) Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science (NDSS) Program announced a partnership to help advance the study of sleep science. Both parties published a few tips to help people sleep better during this year's spring forward.
Tempur Sealy and the sleep scientists at UNC recommend doing everything possible to have uninterrupted sleep. That includes finding a mattress that reduces motion transfer and adjusts to your personal body size, weight and temperature. An example is a Tempur-Pedic mattress, which has a variety of options for firmness and feel.
According to NSF's poll, people who experience pain suffer from worse sleep quality. On average, those with no pain slept 7.3 hours in the past week; those with acute pain slept 7.0 hours; and those with chronic pain slept 6.7 hours.
A second tip is to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake so your body can fall asleep without the external influence of chemicals. If you experience some form of physical or emotional pain, that may lead to wakefulness at night.
On average, individuals with chronic pain have 42 minutes of sleep debt, while those with acute pain average 14 minutes of sleep debt. Additionally, greater stress is associated with less sleep and worse sleep quality. People with severe or very severe stress said they got 49 minutes less sleep per night on average.
Spending more time outside can also have a positive effect on your sleep cycle. Getting under the sun can increase your intake of vitamin D.
As spring forward approaches, you may want to consider resetting your clocks early so your body can prepare for that one-hour adjustment on Sunday. Similarly, you can go to bed a few minutes earlier each night leading up to spring forward.
Losing 60 minutes of sleep through spring forward doesn't have to result in groggy eyes and headaches in the middle of the night. Through awareness of proper sleeping behavior, people can improve the duration and quality of their all-too-important natural hibernation.