Being Healthy Means Getting Enough Sleep and Water

Girl with glass of water

This month the All Kids Healthy program reminds us that we need sleep and water to be healthy.  

We All Need Sleep

Humans spend about 1/3 of their lives asleep which averages to about 56 hours a week for adults.  Why is sleep important?

  • Helps our immune system fight illness
  • Increases alertness
  • Able to maintain a healthier weight
  • Able to make better choices
  • Improves metabolism
  • Improves performance in school and at work

Getting less sleep than you need has been linked to heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and shortened life expectancy. What else happens when we don’t get enough sleep?  

  • Less able to make healthy choices
  • Turn to food to stay awake—caffeine, sugary and high-fat foods
  • Less able to focus on skills such as driving, operating complicated machinery & systems

For more information about how much sleep we need and how to get better sleep, check out our article from last year: Get Some Sleep! 

We All Need Water

Many people do not drink the amount of water they should.  Living in the United States today, we have an endless variety of beverages from which to choose many of which contain an excessive amount of sugar.  The primary beverages everyone should be drinking are milk and water.  You may have heard that you should drink eight cups of water a day.  The actual amount of water you need varies depending on age and activity level; however, aiming for more water versus less is always your best bet.

Winter is a time when many people forget to keep their water intake up.  The weather is not hot like it is in the summer, and we generally aren’t loosing water through sweat.  However, the cold, dry air outside and the warm, dry air from heating systems inside can dry you out quickly.  It is just as important to keeping your hydration level up during all seasons as it is in the summer.  

People who drink more water and fewer sugary or caffeinated drinks report having more energy throughout their day.  This is because they are not experiencing fluctuating levels of sugar and caffeine in their bodies that can make them feel very energetic an alert followed by feelings of tiredness when those levels drop.  Your skin is healthier when you drink water as well. Skin cells, just like all the cells in your body, consist mostly of water.  Staying hydrated helps your skin as the cells are full of water and less prone to wrinkling. Drinking water can save you money when you eat at restaurants and at home when you drink from the tap instead of buying juices, sodas, or other drinks.  

Tips for Drinking More Water

  • For those who don’t like the taste of plain water, try flavoring it with fruit or herbs such as lemons, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, cucumber, or mint.
  • Freeze small pieces of fruit or mint with water in ice cube trays.  The ice will be ready with flavor when you want a cool drink.
  • Put an app on your phone to remind you to drink water during the day.  Many are available for all brands of phones or tablets.
  • Eat foods with a high water content such as watermelon, cucumber, or celery for a little hydration boost.
  • Get on the water bottle craze and carry your water with you so you aren’t tempted to make some not-so-good-for-you choices when you’re thirsty.
  • Get a filter for your faucet or a filtered pitcher for your refrigerator if you do not like the taste of your tap water.