Like skipping breakfast, not getting enough sleep could be just as harmful to you and for your well being. There are a lot of very obvious reasons why someone lacks sleep… there’s work overload from jobs that results to working overtime either in the office or sometimes we bring work at home, school assignments/exams, projects and researches due a couple of days later or worse the following day, from a mother who takes care of her child/children especially newborns that have unusual sleeping and waking habits and so much more.
Sometimes, one can’t help not having enough sleep at all since there are a lot of demands from our families and other obligations. The only time for others to do some of the personal stuff that they want (and I know a lot of people can relate to this) is when everybody is sleeping and when all that needs to be done for the day is finished, most especially for mothers like me. So really, it gives a whole new meaning to the quote, “So many things to do, so little time” but then there are also sleeping disorders/problems which I hope none of us would ever have or if so, needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
What makes sleeping very important is the fact that it is also responsible on how we function from day to day. Aside from having a good healthy diet or meal and good physical activities, sleeping also contributes to our total well being. So here are some reasons why you should not take it for granted and what part of you or your life it affects.
I remember back in the old days when I was still young, my parents always require me and my brothers to sleep early and take naps in the afternoon. I followed them not because I believed that it was going to be significant, although my parents told me so, but because they will let me play with my friends after. But now, having researched about this topic, it added more credibility points to my parents and what they are trying to convey. They were right…sleeping is indeed very important, especially for young children.
Did you know that when we sleep, our body produces essential hormones? One of which is the growth hormone. As we all know, growth hormones is responsible for well, making children grow. But not only that, growth hormones also stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration. Having high/adequate levels of growth hormone could decrease body fat, increase muscle mass, increase bone density, increase energy levels, improve skin tone and texture and improve immune system. So that explains why sometimes when we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to get sick but when we sleep when we are sick we get better. Very interesting.
Studies also show that frequently having poor quality of sleep could also result to other medical conditions like heart diseases and high blood pressure. Even found out to cause people to be overweight or obese, or eventually develop diabetes and has more tendency to consume foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates. (Which converts to sugar and stays in our system if not burned through physical activity)
This is also bad for night shift workers actually (which I used to be one), they are more at risk especially for injuries or accidents both at work and on the road. There are also reports that these workers could also more likely to suffer from again, heart diseases, digestive disorders, emotional problems, and infertility. The price that these people have to pay to earn a decent living and those people who stays up way beyond the normal working hours to help and be of service to others. Like those in the fields of medicine, aviation and others. Unsung heroes of our time…
In order for us to have an optimal performance throughout the day, we need to be well rested to think clearly, react instantly and another very interesting fact–to create and store memories…What? Yes folks, memories. There are pathways in our brains that are most active when we sleep which helps us learn and remember things. Researches also reveal that people who have a good night’s sleep do better when taught mentally challenging task than those who didn’t. It was also suggested that a good quality of sleep is needed to create creative problem solving.
An adequate sleep is really valuable for people on the job or in school. A lack thereof by even an hour, could make it a bit harder than usual to focus, make your response time slow or worse may lead to bad decision making and higher risks. Thus, lower or poor performance on your obligations and can even cause accidents.
As mentioned in some of the problems that night shift workers are more prone to face is the emotional troubles. Sleeping affects our moods big time. Inadequate sleep can make a person irritable, linked to have poor behavior and trouble with relationships. Lastly, the more serious and frightening, the tendency to become depressed. We can only just imagine how critical a simple everyday routine/habit could be once we start taking it lightly.
HOW MUCH HOURS OF SLEEP IS REQUIRED?
To help us get the highest quality of sleep that each one of needs, here’s a guide taken from http://helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm. Contrary to what others might think, it is not always a full 7-8 hours of sleep every night for everybody. Different age groups need different number of hours of sleep. I didn’t know this fully, until now.
About 16 hours per day of sleep
Babies and Toddlers
From 6 months to 3 years: between 10 and 14 hours per day. Infants and young children generally get their sleep from a combination of nighttime sleep and naps.
Ages 3 to 6: between 10 and 12 hours of sleep
Ages 6 to 9: about 10 hours of sleep
Ages 9 to 12: about 9 hours of sleep
About 9 hours of sleep per night. Teens have trouble getting enough sleep not only because of their busy schedules, but also because they are biologically programmed to want to stay up later and sleep later in the morning, which usually doesn’t go well with school schedules.
For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep.
Older adults are also thought to need 7-8 hours of sleep. However, this sleep may be for shorter time spans, is lighter than a younger adult’s, and may include a nap during the day.
During pregnancy, women may need a few more hours of sleep per night, or find that they need small catnaps during the day.
Now that we know the number of hours that is required for us to sleep, here are some tips to achieve just that. I will probably need this myself:
• Prevent drinking alcoholic beverages before going to bed – Although alcohol could help you get to sleep, it will not however get you into a deep sleep. You will most probably end up waking in the middle of the night when you are no longer intoxicated and when you need to go to the toilet. So your sleep is interrupted.
• Try not to drink any caffeinated drinks and avoid nicotine – Both of these items are stimulants and both have the “pick-me-up” effect on a person. For drinks such as colas, coffee, tea and chocolate, the caffeine in them and its effect could take as long as 8 hours to subside fully.
• Religiously follow a sleeping schedule – Set the time that you want to go to bed and the time you want to wake up every day for 7 days a week. Yes, including weekends. Try not to break the pattern and let your own internal body clock (Circadian Rhythm) work for you. In other words let the system in your body control when things will happen. Such as sleeping and waking.
• Napping after 3 P.M. is a no-no – Late afternoon naps will make it harder for you to fall asleep. Although studies show that naps could actually enhance brain power, try to do it before 3PM and limit it to less than an hour.
• Go let the sunshine in – Expose yourself to sunlight, preferably not later than 10am. I remember what my daughter’s pediatrician told me when I gave birth to her, she specifically ordered me to take my baby out every morning before 10am to get the right sunlight exposure. Little did I know that aside from getting vitamin D and avoiding the Ricketts disease, I found out that it also regulates daily sleeping pattern, nice. Be careful not to over expose yourself though. Try at least 30 minutes a day.
• Late night exercise, not advisable – Exercise is great but 5-6 hours before bedtime is not a good idea. Try to do it early in the morning or early in the afternoon and as much as possible at least 20-30 minutes, only if you don’t have time to schedule it earlier. Because when you do exercise you are making your body raise its temperature. Cooler body temperature is associated to sleeping.
• Consuming large meals and beverages late at night should be avoided – Hmm, not only will it give you indigestion but it will also lead to other digestive problems. Especially something related to the pancreas. While drinking lots of fluid is not as bad as indigestion but it will wake you up in the middle of the night to pee and disrupt your sleep.
• Medicines that interrupts sleep – There are some medicines or over the counter drugs that instead of making you drowsy and sleepy, keeps you awake. But don’t let this particular tip stop you from getting better. If you need to take your medicines, please do so.
• Prepare yourself to sleep – Relax before bedtime. Unwind. Do some relaxing activities; take a bath to make your body cooler and relaxed as well, make the temperature in your bedroom cooler too. Read a book, listen to soothing music. No loud noises, bright lights, and TV or computer. Make all of these a part of your ritual before bedtime.
• Lying in bed awake – Just how irritating that could be. Trying to fall asleep after lying in the bed awake for 20 minutes or more is just making you so uneasy especially if you are really tired. The more you try to sleep the harder it gets. You know what, just don’t force it. Don’t fret…try not to fall asleep. Do some activity instead. Or just do some or all of the bedtime rituals if that helps. That’s how I do it and it works.
• Consult your doctor if all else fails – Oh no, if you’ve tried everything but still having difficulty sleeping, you just might have a sleeping disorder. Try to see your doctor as soon as possible and seek help. Discuss solutions, know the type of disorder that you have and the cures for it to get you back in the right track.
Now that we know just how important a good quality sleep is for us, let us try not to take it for granted already. Let’s all have a good night’s sleep next time around and always. To understand more about sleeping, more tips and information visit, http://helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm and http://helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm.
“Sweet dreams everyone. Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” :)