Lack of Sleep
Sweet Dreams: Is Sleep Over-Rated?
I’m a 33-year old female who has trouble falling asleep. Many of my friends are taking prescriptions like candy to get to the ‘land of nod.’ I don’t want to take a pill to fall asleep. Is sleep really that important? If so, there must be a safer alternative. Any suggestions?
It’s true, we live in a sleep-deprived nation, trying to fit too much into a 24 hour day. Sleeping mattresses are selling like crazy, and bed and bath stores are filled with shoppers looking for anything that will help them to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. I’m going to suggest we review a few ‘sleep basics’ that I like to call:
Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t just turn off when you lay down to go to sleep. Many body operations actually turn on when you sleep, such as your body’s ability to make important hormones that keep you balanced. The human growth hormone secreted when we have good sleep is necessary to provide growth, weight control, vitality, healthy skin, hair and nails, energy and longevity. Your body operates with underlying rhythms when you sleep, called circadian rhythms. These rhythms can be upset by changing or accepting poor sleep patterns. Bad sleep habits, like getting too little sleep or stimulating yourself with caffeine, watching TV late, working on the computer with a bright screen, or too much stress can all throw off your body rhythms, making you more vulnerable to poor sleep and upset hormone balance, leaving you feeling bad in many ways.
Sleep is the most restorative habit that we do every day. Without sleep we would be a mess. The not-so-pretty side of sleep deprivation can be symptoms such as irritability, bouts of rage, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, weight gain, dizziness, depression, excessive emotional instability, (crying all of the time,) anxiety, cravings, over-eating, loss of sex drive, insomnia and brain fog.
Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of lack of sleep. Excessive stress, too much on your to-do list, poor diet, stimulants in coffee, sodas, junk food and lack of exercise can all lead to poor quality of sleep.
The thought that we do not need seven to nine hours of sleep regularly is crazy. Study after study has shown the restorative and necessary benefits of adequate sleep. Research has also confirmed a shortened life span with less than eight hours of sleep and that hormone balance can lead to enhanced sleep patterns for both men and women. Recent studies have also confirmed that additional sleep is required when stress levels are high. Of course this is when we are all skipping out on needed sleep.
If you are ready to make changes for you and your family, check out my sleep tips below and enjoy more sleep tonight!
Tips on Getting a Good Nights Sleep:
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink at dinnertime and afterwards. Avoid eating too much food, chocolate, tea, coffee, sodas, and excessive salt or sugar.
- Plan for eight hours of sleep; go to bed earlier.
- Make a to-do list each evening for the next day to re-assure yourself that it will get done.
- Take a bath for at least 10 minutes with lavender oil.
- Eliminate things in your room that keep you awake such as animals, TV, snoring person (get them help).
- Keep your room cool and un-cluttered.
- Make your bed your sleep retreat. Keep it clean, organized and made daily (looking inviting).
- Do not get in the habit of working in bed, watching TV (especially the news), checking e-mails or eating in bed. Bed is for sleep, don’t confuse yourself.
- Take calcium and magnesium in the evening or at bedtime.
- Take vitamin supplements and B-complex in the morning.
- Exercise in the morning to wake yourself up.
- Plan your evening carefully. Do not over-extend yourself; stick to your routine and sleep habits nightly.
- Think about how we put our babies to bed; rubbing their backs, reading them a book, turning down the lights, these should be habits that you do for yourself. We are all humans in need of a “turning off” period, so that our brains know that it’s time to sleep.
- Consider a relaxation therapy before bed, such as stretching, yoga, Pilates, deep breathing while getting ready for bed, and calming your body when you get to bed closing your eyes, consciously resting your mind, and every part of your body, and breathing slowly and deeply for the first five to 10 minutes.
- Put lavender in or around your pillow to help provide calmness and relaxation.
- Review the days events and tell yourself that you will correct areas that need improvement, the next day and concentrate on good thoughts and good fortune for you and your family.