According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65% of Americans experience sleep problems at least a few times each week. Further, 44% report nightly problems. Lack of adequate sleep can have negative health consequences. A recent report links poor sleep patterns to an increased risk of diabetes.

Published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (September 2009; 94 [9], 3242–50), the study found that when participants slept only 5.5 hours a night (as opposed to 8.5) over a 2-week period, they showed changes in response to sugar tests. The changes were similar to those seen in people at risk for developing diabetes. “Our findings raise the possibility that when the unhealthy aspects of the Westernized lifestyle are combined with reduced sleep duration, this might contribute to the increased risk of many overweight and sedentary individuals developing diabetes.”

Despite these findings, many people will still have difficulty getting enough sleep, owing to busy schedules and external stressors. Provide your sleep-deprived clients with these suggestions from IDEA author Kate Larsen:

  • Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages after 9:00 am.
  • Remove the television from the bedroom. Your bedroom should be for sleep and rejuvenation only.
  • Get into and out of bed at the same times at least 6 days per week.
  • Keep a journal by the bed to write down last-minute thoughts that come up before sleep. A “do not forget” list will help you let go of tasks that need to be completed the following day.

For more information on improving your sleep savvy, see “Sleep Matters” in the May 2007 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.