I recently attended an education session focusing on the importance of maintaining strong bones and muscle mass as we age. The speakers engaged and instilled us with the most current research and evidence, focusing on three key nutrients, calcium, vitamin D and protein. Wonderful information to utilize in my practice as a dietitian for sure, but the final speaker said one thing that stood out to me. He indicated that in ten years’ time, education sessions such as this would not only be talking about how nutrition plays a vital role in all body systems and processes supporting overall health and management of disease, but that he could almost guarantee that one of the speakers would be talking about sleep. Sleep? Yes, sleep. We all know that; it’s something we have all been told all our lives. And yet, as a health professional, I have never listened to a presentation regarding the importance of sleep.
Professional athletes and teams enlist the help of sleep specialists as one component of supporting optimal performance. Researchers are starting to understand why good sleep and enough sleep are so important and that people who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic disease and medical conditions.
I look forward to learning more about what scientists discover about the importance of sleep and how it affects optimal body system functioning. Good nutrition will always be important, but if new research on sleep reveals positive effects of a daily nap, then I’m in!