By: Phil Holleman
Sleep, oh wonderful sleep! how I love thee! How I miss thee!
In our modern always-on-the-go culture, many people consider sleep to be a nuisance rather than a necessity. I guess I’m weird, because I never felt that way. I have always tried to get enough sleep, although success hasn’t always been assured.
When I suffered from major depression, I couldn’t sleep at all. Depression took away my ability to sleep. Then, I worried about not being able to sleep. I put myself into a vicious cycle: not being able to sleep, worrying about not being able to sleep, and so on.
Now that my depression is gone, it has still been difficult to get back to a healthy sleep pattern. It’s a work in progress.
Why is sleep so important? In his book, 10 Keys To Wellness, Michael R. Ellison explains.
Sleep rewards us with many benefits:
- The body rejuvenates, replenishes, and replaces cells.
- Important hormones are secreted for growth and development.
- Body temperature drops, blood pressure decreases, and breathing slows – all of which allow the body to regroup and regain energy.
- Muscles shut down and kidney functions change, allowing major organs to rest and repair or replace damaged cells.
- Memory is consolidated.
I believe it’s safe to say, sleep is critical to living a healthy life.
How much sleep do we need?
Sleep experts say almost all of us need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Teenagers need 8 to 9 hours. That equates to 5 to 6 complete cycles of sleep a night. We can’t cut back on sleep during the week and think we can make up for it on the weekends.
It’s not true older people need less sleep. Aging may affect our sleep patterns, but we still need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
What happens if we don’t get enough sleep for a period of time? Lack of sleep can:
- Impair the ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes.
- Interrupt blood pressure cycles, which can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.
- Cause insufficient growth hormone secretion, which has been linked to obesity.
- Cause impaired immunity, which lead to greater susceptibility to disease.
Lack of sleep may lead to emotional and/or psychological issues, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Difficulty remembering
- Decreased hand-eye co-ordination and other slow responses
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Increased anxiety, anger, and depression
Mr. Ellison shares 10 good tips to help us get a better night’s sleep:
- Avoid caffeine within 8 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol near bedtime. It can increase the number of times we awaken in the latter half of sleep.
- Exercise regularly. Complete a workout at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Watch what we eat. Be careful of the spicy foods and tomato products. Eating too much or not enough can mess up our sleep.
- Give up nicotine. It has been linked to difficulty falling asleep, problems waking up, and an increase in nightmares.
- Restrict liquid intake. Drink that last glass of water 1 to 1 1/2 hours before going to bed.
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Take a warm bath; dim the lights an hour before bedtime; close the curtains.
- Keep a schedule of regular bedtime and wake time. I get up at the same time every day, including week-ends.
- Block out disruptive noise.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment, including a comfortable bed.
To get a little extra help, I’m going to start reciting this little prayer at night:
Sleep, you are my friend. I invite you into my life to heal and rejuvenate my body. Thank you God for bringing sleep into my life.
Sweet dreams everyone. That is my wish for all of you!
Yours in good health,
Phil Holleman spent over 11 years struggling with major depression. During that time, he learned how important it is to live a healthy life. He created ABoldNewLife.com to help others who are on their journey to wellness.
What Did You Think?
Let me know your thoughts on today’s article.
Post your comments below.
Remember – share the knowledge…