With everything happening in our daily lives, one behavior may often get shortchanged in our quest to complete our to do list: adequate sleep. But IUPUI Professor NiCole Keith and Doctoral Fellow Rafael Alamilla say sleep is one of the most important actions we can take to protect our mental and physical health. Adequate sleep can help you recover from exercise, enable your immune system to fight off pathogens and increase cognitive performance. Keith and Alamilla say that despite the proven health benefits of sleep, many individuals see it as a luxury and don’t get enough sleep each night. Research indicates chronic sleep deprivation can have serious consequences such as impairing the body’s insulin response, which can contribute to the onset of diabetes. Chronic sleep deprivation has also been associated with an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. The researchers say a lack of sleep can also alter memory retention, negatively impact moods, and inhibit a person’s capacity to drive. Keith and Alamilla say it is important to develop sleep hygiene that contributes to a healthy lifestyle, and that people must commit to making sleep a priority. They recommend building your daily schedule around sleep, just as you might schedule other important activities throughout your day. Another way to develop sleep hygiene, they say, is to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day. A bedtime ritual that you can implement at least 30 minutes before going to bed can also help. Adopt activities that will help you relax, like taking a hot shower or reading a book. Avoid screen time before bed, as the bright light emitted can alter how our bodies release melatonin and adenosine, chemicals that help initiate sleep cycles. Finally, they say, do your best to make your bed a sleep sanctuary. If possible, use it only for sleep, and make sure your room is conducive to promoting sleep by limiting the amount of light and setting the room to a cooler temperature.
In other news, the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health is expanding their work to improve health equity in three Indianapolis neighborhoods, thanks to a new $5 million grant from Eli Lilly and Company. The Diabetes Impact Project, or DIP-IN, was launched in 2018 to focus on Type 2 Diabetes prevention and control. It is a partnership among the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Indianapolis communities, and includes collaboration with a variety of city-wide and neighborhood-based organizations. In the three DIP-IN communities, 83 percent of residents are people of color and an estimated 10,000 people live with diabetes, with prevalence rates of almost 20 percent. For comparison, the average rate of diabetes in Indianapolis is 15 percent, and the average rate globally is 9 percent. Lisa Staten, an associate professor at IUPUI in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and principal investigator on the project, says the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the importance of DIP-IN, due to people of color and people with diabetes being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The continued DIP-IN partnership with the neighborhoods will allow the development of effective and sustainable local solutions for diabetes prevention and control and ultimately improve health equity, she says, by tackling some of the underlying causes of diabetes such as inadequate access to healthy food, higher stress and insufficient infrastructure and support for physical activity.