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Lack of sleep and high levels of stress are contributing factors to many diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. This combo can also lead to headaches, depression and obesity. The key to reducing your risk and optimizing your health is identifying when you need help in these areas and implementing lifestyle changes that will reduce stress and improve your sleep.

Stress Management

It is common to be overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities and feel stressed. However, it is crucial you manage this stress before it takes a toll on your overall health. While you may not be able to eliminate all the triggers of your stress, there are ways to reduce it.

Give yourself time to unwind. This can be a dedicated hour each evening to do what makes you feel relaxed, or it can be 10 minutes in between meetings at work to take a quick walk. Do something that puts your mind at ease. Exercise is proven to alleviate stress and leave you feeling more optimistic. Aim for some physical activity every day.

Sleep Management

Sleep is another area that is often negatively impacted when we feel stressed.

If you are not sleeping through the night, or have trouble falling asleep, there are things you can do to train your body to follow a sleep regimen. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Going to bed and waking at the same time every day will help set your internal clock and your body will naturally get tired and wake on its own. Resist the urge to sleep late on the weekends as this can throw off your entire sleep schedule.

Limit caffeine and have a caffeine cutoff of 3 p.m. each day. This gives your body time to get rid of the stimulating effects of caffeine in time for bed.
Adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night, but depending on your own needs, you may need a little more or a little less to feel your best.

If you have concerns about your sleep or stress levels, talk to your doctor or seek out a lifestyle medicine specialist. The latter are experts at creating lifestyle plans to achieve your health goals.

UCF Health offers primary care to the public from its two offices locations in Orlando.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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