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The average American sleeps only 6.8 hours each night, down from 7.9 hours in 1942. Dr. Ellen Vora, a mental health expert often quoted in leading publications, says this lack of sleep harms almost every dimension of health and wellness, from managing mental health and maintaining a healthy weight to fighting off infections and suppressing cancer cells.
Dr. Vora is a board-certified psychiatrist who graduated from Columbia University medical school and does corporate wellness presentations, speaks at health and fitness seminars and consults with healthcare companies. She takes a functional medicine approach to mental health, where she doesn’t treat only symptoms, but the root cause of the disease.
“There’s a two-way street between sleep, stress and anxiety,” says Dr. Vora, who has been featured in publications like mindbodygreen, Well+Good, Goop and One Medical. “While both stress and anxiety can contribute to difficulty sleeping, what’s more important is to understand that lack of sleep, which can be due to preventable factors, can dramatically contribute to anxiety and poor stress tolerance.”
“In other words, when we don’t make sleep a priority, we’re contributing to our anxiety and burnout.”
Here are Dr. Vora’s top three tips to help prioritize sleep and avoid burnout:
“Lack of magnesium makes it harder to relax and sleep. I recommend magnesium supplementation and Epsom salt baths.” Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate and can be purchased almost anywhere that carries personal care items, including grocery stores, pharmacies and popular online retailers.
The practice of self-care has gained popularity in the wellness industry with a variety of rituals and products, but Dr. Vora says getting a good night’s sleep is the ultimate form of self-care.
“It’s free, it feels good, and it does more for your health and sense of well-being than any self-care practice out there.”