New York City – nicknamed “the city that never sleeps” – is known for its energetic atmosphere that continuously stays in motion throughout the day and night. The city's entertainment opportunities are endless, with its thriving nightlife scene and restaurants staying open until late into the night. However, this non-stop ball of energy and excitement could affect your health.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), getting the proper amount of sleep each night is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As a matter of fact, the NSF states that the quality and quantity of your sleep you receive each night strongly ties to your mental health and emotional well-being. When you go to sleep, your body and mind undergo a restorative process that helps you regulate your emotions and improve cognitive function. While it can be great fun to stay out late and dance the night away, research shows that too much of this late-night activity can be detrimental to your overall health.
Your mental health and sleep deficiency
If you think back to a night when you did not get good sleep, whether due to a health reason causing discomfort or maybe your newborn baby keeping you awake, it’s most likely that you started that next morning out not feeling so great. It is also expected, according to the NSF, that you might have felt irritable or short-tempered, had trouble dealing with emotions from minor challenges, or experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety.
In order to learn about how the nation’s sleep and mental health are connected, the NSF conducted a poll and published its findings. Here is a quick glimpse of some of the top results from the NSF’s 2023 Sleep in America® Poll:
- When American adults had good overall sleep health, 90% of them stated they had no significant symptoms of depression.
- On the contrary, nearly 7 in 10 Americans (65%) dissatisfied with their sleep also experience mild or more significant symptoms associated with depression.
- People who reported difficulties falling or staying asleep two nights a week have higher levels of depressive symptoms than those without sleep difficulties.
- Over 50% of adults that get less than 7 to 9 hours (recommended by the NSF) per night may experience mild or higher levels of depressive symptoms.
These findings suggest that getting good sleep each night is vital to your mental well-being. The NSF also recognizes that those dealing with mental health issues often have issues with rest. However, by understanding this connection, you can start your journey of healing and improving your sleep and emotional well-being, as well as begin to see improvements in your overall physical health.
Can a lack of sleep affect your physical health?
Not only is sleep vital to keeping our minds healthy and in check, but getting good sleep is critical to our physical state. According to an article written by Dr. Erica Jansen at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, “Sleep is essential to every process in the body, affecting our physical and mental functioning the next day, our ability to fight disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism and chronic disease risk.”
When you first fall asleep, your body enters non-REM sleep, which causes your blood pressure and heart rate to decrease. Per the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the parasympathetic system takes control during REM sleep, and your sympathetic system activates upon waking. This activation causes your body to increase its heart rate and blood pressure back to normal levels when you are awake. However, according to the NHLBI, people that do not get enough sleep or wake up often during the night may have a higher risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke.
Other physical aspects that a lack of sleep might hinder, according to the NHLBI, are your hormones, metabolism, respiratory and immune systems, as well as issues with learning and the formation of long-term memories, and not thinking clearly. While getting a good night’s sleep should seem like common sense and easy to achieve, it is evident that many individuals struggle with making this happen. There are good ways, however, to practice effective sleep habits that can help improve sleep problems.
How to get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done, right? The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that an estimated 40 million Americans have reported and suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and that 60 percent of adults have sleep problems at least a few nights a week or more. Unfortunately, abnormalities in various physiological systems, unhealthy conditions, disorders, and diseases, can all contribute to sleep issues.
According to the APA, talking to a physician or mental health provider about sleeping issues that recur or persist for longer than a few weeks is recommended. You can also try therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, that can help recognize and help with insomnia.
Researchers also suggest trying these techniques to help with sleep issues:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule, including when you fall asleep and when you wake up; develop a normal bedtime routine as well.
- Four to six hours before bedtime, do not drink or eat caffeine and minimize daytime caffeine consumption.
- Refrain from smoking, especially near bedtime or if you awake at night.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep.
- Exercise regularly.
- Ensure your sleep environment has minimum noise, light, and excessive hot and cold temperatures.
- To ensure you get enough sleep, try to go to bed earlier every night for a certain period.
By following the suggestions above, you can create a healthy sleep routine that fits your lifestyle and gives you the rest you need to thrive in the city. With consistent sleep, you can improve your overall health and live a more vibrant lifestyle – essential while living in a big, bustling city that thrives on never-ending fun opportunities.
While New York City is a fast-paced, exciting place to live with endless things to do, it is also important to remember to pause and take some time to rest. There are many pros to setting a routine bedtime and waking up feeling ready to take on the day, and it never hurts to prioritize self-care and find ways to unwind from a busy schedule. Whether taking a yoga class, walking in Central Park, or reading a book in a quiet corner of a coffee shop, finding time to relax and recharge can significantly impact your overall well-being. By taking a balanced and proactive approach to life in “the city that never sleeps,” you can fully enjoy all that New York has to offer while prioritizing your health and happiness.