(BPT) - As the winter months approach, you're probably planning to take preventative health measures recommended by your doctor: get the flu shot; wash your hands more often and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. But one thing that makes you more susceptible to getting sick is being stressed and run down. Despite living in a world where everyone is constantly on-the-go, you can't avoid the fact that proper sleep is a key element when it comes to overall health.
Sleep is your body's time to recuperate, so the less quality sleep you get, the less time your body has to do what it needs to do to keep you healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night, and that teens and children get nine hours or more. Unfortunately, a quarter of the American population reports that they get inadequate sleep, which the CDC has deemed a public health epidemic. However, changing a few simple things about your daily routine or the room in which you sleep can greatly improve the quality of the sleep you get and, in turn, help improve your overall health.
Stick to a sleep schedule.Make sure that you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day, even on weekends. Having a consistent sleep pattern helps regulate your body's sleep-wake cycle, helping you to sleep better at night. If you have trouble falling asleep within the first 20 minutes or so of going to bed, that's okay - simply go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Agonizing over falling asleep will only make it tougher for you to get the rest you need.
Get cozy.This means making sure you have comfortable bedding. In a U.S.-based survey conducted by the American Down and Feather Council (ADFC), 70 percent of consumers surveyed, who use down and feather products, agreed that they get a better night's sleep with down and feather bedding. Furthermore, 55 percent agreed that there are health benefits to sleeping with down and feather products, because they:
* Regulate your body temperature - Down and feather is a natural material that wicks away moisture and perspiration, allowing it to quickly evaporate rather than trapping it. This reduces wakefulness due to being too hot or too cool.
* Provide proper support - Down and feather pillows conform to the body more naturally than many synthetic fibers or foam pillows.
* Help tame allergens - Down and feather products are tightly woven and provide a clean, natural and moisture-free environment, so they aren't conducive to dust mites, which are a source of allergies for nearly 20 million Americans.
Assess your sleeping conditions. Your bedroom should be cool - between 60 and 67 degrees - and should be dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, and make sure to 'power down' before you go to sleep. This means turning off TVs, computers or other sources of blue light that may hurt your sleep. To help block-out extra noise, consider using a fan or 'white noise' machines to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
There are plenty of reasons to love the fall and winter months, and you'll certainly appreciate these cooler months even more if you're getting the adequate amount of sleep that you need to stay healthy. If you're having trouble sleeping, start by making changes right to your bedroom - see what a difference the quality of your bedding can make.
If you'd like to learn more about down and feather products, visit DownandFeatherCouncil.com.