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Feb
08

Just Sleep On It

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Image from anankkml

Image from anankkml

It’s usually the same routine:

  • Pick up the little ones.
  • Home for homework and a recap of their day.
  • Dinner with some crying about vegetables.
  • Bath time and a story.
  • Put them to bed.
  • Do laundry, answer emails, prepare lunches for tomorrow, pay some bills, call the sister…

Did you notice that we missed something?  The kids have a bedtime, but what happened to ours?

 

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Does the alarm scare you awake every morning?
  • Do you wake up every day still feeling tired?
  • Do you fall asleep during movies or while watching TV?
  • Do you go on vacation to sleep late?

Maybe YOU need a bedtime.

Studies have shown that sleep is a fantastic cure-all, and a lack of sleep does the body no good.  From the sweet feeling of rest, to the peace of mind, to the physical effects:  sleep is necessary for health and happiness.

Most experts say that the average adult needs somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.  Some people function well on as little as 4 hours, but some may need at least 10.  Several hours of uninterrupted sleep has been shown to reduce fatigue, improve memory, help to deal with emotional trauma, and perhaps even boost the body’s immune system.  A study in the medical journal The Lancet said that nearly a quarter of all adults feel as if they don’t get a good night’s sleep, and a full ten percent of our adult population would qualify as suffering from insomnia.  Insomnia and other sleep disorders (like sleep apnea) have been shown to increase the risk of depression, hypertension, and heart disease.

A recently published study reported the link between sleep and certain cells in the body.  Your body produces a sort of white blood cell, called a natural killer cell, which your body will release to fight invasions of foreign cells, like cancer.  Subjects who were kept awake or had disrupted sleep patterns had lower or depressed levels of these cells in their body.  So in an age when almost anything can cause cancer, a good night’s sleep can help you fight it!

Do you dream at night?  Many of us dream of flying (means something), of being naked in a crowd (means something), or being trapped (means something).  All Freud aside, many of us dream of talking to loved ones past and present, and re-live emotional situations in our lives.  Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have been looking into the relationship between sleep and emotions.  What we dream may help us to resolve emotional issues, help to ease painful memories, and may be a key to lessening the devastation of post traumatic stress disorder.

So how do you dip into this fountain of youth?  Try starting with these five simple steps:

  • Give yourself a bedtime.  Every day has to end at some point, and it should end when you say so.  Some things may get put off until tomorrow, but you’ll be better equipped to deal with them if you have a clear and rested noggin.
  • Turn everything off.  That means everything.  Some people benefit from a sound machine that simulates crashing waves, and some relax to the whir of a spinning fan.  That doesn’t mean a television, a radio, or a phone.  Almost half of all smartphone users check their social media updates after they’ve gone to bed.  You go to bed to sleep, not to network.
  • Eat for sleep.  It is never a good idea to eat and then fall out.  You should give your body some time to digest before you hit the hay, and avoid items with caffeine or lots of sugar.  These items make you stay awake.
  • Relax.  A common cause of insomnia is anxiety triggered by what you have on your plate tomorrow.  You should review your day and plan your tomorrow before you make the decision to catch some shuteye.  Before you strap into your jammies you should do something to clear your head, like meditation, deep breathing, or perhaps reading something that is totally unrelated to your anxiety-inducing plans.
  • Exercise.  We seem to slip this into every “wellness” blog or post, but it’s true.  Some time during your day, you need to exercise.  A perfect routine would find you enjoying a brisk family walk after dinner/before bedtime.  We know, good for your heart, reduce the risk of stroke, maintain a good weight, etc etc etc.  Truth be told, when you exercise your body releases a chemical called dopamine.  Do you know what dopamine does?  It drives learning, controls some voluntary movements, and helps to combat depression.  Your body should like dopamine.

So pull out the comfy sheets, fluff up the pillow, and grab your favorite pajamas.  We like the ones with the feet in them.  To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.”  We’re going to need for you to be at your best.  Get some sleep.

 

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