I have clients and friends that suggest sleeping is not necessary but sleep is essential for our well-being; it's just as important as food and water. I did some research and this is what I found.
Why is sleep important?
It is a time when we restore our bodies and process memories.
For our physical and mental well being.
Helps with cognitive function and lowering blood pressure, which helps our appetite and immune function.
Optimal sleep defined as 7 - 9 hours a night
Not getting enough sleep?
Many people have sleep deficits
Women are more likely to have disrupted sleep than men; men are more likely to have sleep apnea.
A chronic sleep deficit can cause significant health issues and affect our productivity and performance.
What happens when we sleep?
Changes in heart rate and blood pressure (Increased risk of heart attack)
Respiratory-breathing become faster and more erratic during REM sleep
Kidneys - decreased excretion of electrolytes, hormone changes.
Endocrine - Growth hormone, melatonin, thyroid hormone, cortisol surge.
What are the health conditions related to sleep deficits?
High blood pressure
Weight gain and obesity-causes shift in hormones increased appetite
People who are sleep deprived consume more fat. The less we sleep, the more weight we gain.
What is your master clock-Circadian rhythms?
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s master clock found in the brain's hypothalamus and regulate our sleep-wake cycle.
Too little sleep throws off your master clock, which influences alertness, blood pressure hormone and other body functions
Light stimulates the master clock to release signals the effect alertness, and darkness stimulates the release of melatonin.
The sleep-wake cycle is influenced both by genetics and environmental factors, international travel across time zones, work night shifts, all-nighters, diet, exercise use of alcohol.
What are the stages of sleep?
Light easy to wake, muscle twitching
Light sleep, slowing of the brain, lowering body temperature
More in-depth sleep, restorative, immune, boosting, more challenging to awaken
REM more active dreams
Melatonin: The Sleep Hormone
The hormone released from the pineal gland in the brain
Regulates the sleep-wake cycle begins around 8-9 pm
Light blue light blocks secretion of melatonin
Increases REM sleep and vividness of dreams
What interrupts your REM sleep?
Blood pressure medications
Is interrupted sleep a problem?
Consolidated or segmented sleep can be expected. The question is, how do you feel the next day?
How to get some sleep?
Create a nighttime ritual to prepare for sleep.
Begin prepping for bed at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Progressive muscle relaxation
How to improve our sleep?
Get up with some exposure to sunlight (weather permitted).
Use dawn stimulator if the sun is not available.
Regular exercise, don't exercise close to the best time
Don't eat late-night meals.
Avoid late naps.
Creating an environment in your bedroom that improves sleep
Turn off light sources
Alarm clocks without display lights
No blue light from computers
Consider amber, blue light blocking glasses if watching screens
Turn down thermostat 65-68 degrees
Comfortable mattress and pillows
No pets in the room while you are sleeping
What to do if you can't fall asleep.
After 20-30 minutes of not falling asleep, get-up and do something (Not over stimulating)
Read or do something relaxing
Keep light low or look at a lit screen
Go back to bed when feeling sleepy.
Supplements for Sleep
Please check with your health stores.
If you are still having problems sleeping, try any of these
Try a Therapist
Address chronic pain
There is so much information about sleep I barely scratched the surface. There are some interesting data on race and sleeping patterns.
If you have some time it's definitely worth exploring your sleeping habits and how it affects you.
Sleep is essential to all aspects of your health, so take it seriously and get some sleep.
Check out these links for information on sleep