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April 2024

From Pillow Talk to Health Talk: The Power of Sleep

“Hey, how did you sleep last night?” is usually a casual inquiry, nothing more. But when your healthcare provider brings it up, this question can serve as a gateway to profound conversations about your overall well-being.

The domino effect

Inadequate sleep doesn’t just result in groggy mornings and increased caffeine intake—it can trigger a cascade of health problems. Among them:

  • Anxiety and depression. Sleep problems have a strong link with mental illness. Not sleeping enough can bring on mental health struggles or aggravate existing symptoms. Though sometimes, these conditions might be the catalyst for your sleep woes.

  • Cognitive effects. Sleep deprivation impairs both your short-term recall and working memory. What’s more, research suggests that a consistent lack of sleep in middle age can increase the risk of developing dementia later in life.

  • Unhealthy weight gain. A lack of sleep can interfere with your body’s hunger hormones, often leading to weight gain. Those extra pounds can then set the stage for more health complications, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

It’s time to chat

Be honest with your provider about your sleep frustrations. The conversation can be an easy starting point for voicing other struggles in a comfortable context. Plus, it will help your healthcare provider identify any underlying physical or mental health issues.

After discussing these concerns, you can start to integrate actionable steps into your routine. The tips below are a good starting point for improving sleep, but your provider will know how to offer a more personalized approach.

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day—even on weekends.

  • Create relaxing pre-sleep rituals, such as reading a book or listening to calming music.

  • Keep your sleep environment cool, dark, and quiet.

  • Put away electronics 30 minutes before bedtime.

  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol at night.

A solid night’s sleep is about more than waking up on the right side of the bed. It’s a cornerstone for your physical and mental health.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2024
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.