Army H.e.a.l.t.h. Arsenal
December, 2015

The Sleep Better app allows you to track your sleep, monitor your dreams, and improve your bedtime habits so that you wake up feeling more well rested. Sleep Better is an engaging app that helps you improve your sleep quality, whether you struggle to fall asleep, want to learn how your daytime activities influence your sleep efficiency, or simply want some new alarm sounds to help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

While using the app, you can track your sleep duration, cycles, and efficiency. You can also set a custom alarm or learn more about how long you spend in each stage of sleep.

Sleep Better is available for free in the app store for iPhone and Android.

Sleep Corner

The difference between being sleepy and being sleep deprived.

On average, an adult needs 7-8 quality hours of sleep each and every night. When you consistently don’t get the proper quality or quantity of sleep needed, you can suffer from sleep deprivation.

What’s the difference between just being sleepy and sleep deprivation? Common symptoms of sleep deprivation include constant yawning, falling asleep while driving or sitting down, and poor concentration. Symptoms of sleepiness are much milder and may come and go from day to day. Everyone feels tired every now and then, but sleep deprivation is intense and can interfere with your daily life.

It is important to address your sleep needs because sleep deprivation can lead to impaired judgment and reaction times as well as memory loss, depression, weakened immune system, and weight gain. Check to see if these three common habits may be interfering with your sleep.

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How to Sleep Better this Holiday Season

Between family get-togethers, work parties, and all the other seasonal obligations, the holidays can leave you stretched for time and low on sleep. But it’s important to keep your sleep routine as consistent as possible so that you can truly enjoy all the moments of the holiday season. See our tips below for ideas on how to get started.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime
Avoiding caffeine may seem like a no-brainer, but watch out for sneaky sources of caffeine such as soda, tea, and chocolate. Consuming caffeine less than 6 hours prior to bedtime has been shown to reduce the amount of sleep you get.

Alcohol is another sneaky one. Although it may make you feel sleepy, it will actually take away from both the amount and quality of sleep that you will get. Alcohol interferes with your ability to enter into and stay in the deep phase of sleep (Rapid Eye Movement).

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
It’s easy to get caught up chatting with friends and family until the wee hours of the morning, but this can wreak havoc on your sleep routine. Don’t fall for the trap thinking that if you stay up later, you can just sleep in later. Between anxious kids and pets and your body’s own internal clock, chances are you will wake up around the same time you usually do. Try to stick to your normal bedtime (within an hour).


Keep stress and anxiety levels low
Stress is a huge cause of sleep deprivation. Thinking about what may or may not happen or snowballing events can lead to elevated stress levels…all from something that hasn’t even happened yet. Instead of concentrating on past experiences or what you’re afraid might happen this year, try to focus and stay in the moment. One great way to de-stress during the holidays is to practice mindfulness once in the morning and once before bed. This should help you to ease your mind before catching some zzz’s. If you don’t know where to start, try downloading a mindfulness app, such as Stop, Breathe and Think.

Exercise daily
Although you may feel too tired to exercise, try to fit it in because exercise will actually help energize you. It can also help to reduce stress levels and improve sleep too. When you exercise outside and get exposure to natural sunlight, this helps regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Even if you’re really busy, remember, something is better than nothing. Take a walk after dinner or start a flag football game with the family. Make it fun!

Put down the electronics
This may be the hardest part for some people to do. Many of us are connected to our phones, tablets, laptops, or other digital device 24-7. The problem is that blue light generated from our electronic devices can interfere with the body’s natural sleep cycle. The good news is that the holidays are the perfect time to unplug and spend time family and friends. Turn off the TV and put the cell phone. Play a board game, make a gingerbread house, or simply enjoy some quality time with your loved ones.

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I’ve heard that lack of sleep is linked with certain health issues, is this true?

A. Yes, chronic lack of sleep is associated with many adverse health outcomes. Without proper sleep, you are more at risk for heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and premature death. Not getting enough sleep can also increase your stress levels and risk for injury and depression.

During sleep, the brain cleans out all the waste that has built up during your waking hours, this is one reason why health expert believe sleep loss is almost always linked with mental health issues such as depression. The body also takes time to heal and repair itself while you sleep. So, it is easy to see why not getting enough sleep is associated with so many negative health outcomes.

Mindful Moment

Before retiring to bed each night, write down anything weighing on your mind, such as tomorrow's “to do” list or events that happened that day. This will allow you to focus on your breath and the present moment, eliciting a relaxation response.

Bottom Line

Getting enough sleep is essential for feeling your best and truly enjoying the holiday season. Whithout enough sleep, your body will not only feel tired, but you may find yourself feeling more stressed, and at a higher risk for a host of other sleep-related diseases such as depression and heart disease.

This season, try to keep a normal sleep routine, continue to exercise daily, and practice mindfulness. These are habits that will not only help you sleep better, but they are good habits to practice all year long.

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Featured Recipe: Grinch Fruit Kabobs

These grinch fruit kabobs are an easy and fun way to add a healthy treat to your holiday lineup. They are a sweet treat that adds some color and variety to the plethora of typically high fat and high calorie appetizers and desserts seen during holiday parties. If you want to add some protein, try serving these with some cubed cheese.

  • green grapes
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • mini-marshmallows
  • toothpicks

  • First wash and cut your fruit. Then, on each toothpick, assemble your kabob as follows: one mini marshmallow, one strawberry, one banana slice, and one green grape. Enjoy!

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 1 (4 kabobs)      Calories: 122      Carbs: 31g      Fiber: 3g      Sugar: 20g                Fat: 0g              Protein: 1g         Sodium: 12mg     

    Featured Exercise: Jump Turn Squat

    The jump turn squat is one way to add some variety to your lower body workout. This explosive type movement helps you build strength in your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. It can also be a great functional exercise for athletes wishing to extend their vertical reach.

    Featured Recipe adapted from Momables.