The importance of sleep cannot be overestimated in the maintenance of a healthy body.
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Bearing these reasons in mind, it would be well worth ensuring your body is getting adequate sleep.
Now that the importance of sleep has been brought to your attention, you may decide to implement strategies to avert sleep deprivation.
Before you rearrange your schedule to ensure you are getting enough sleep, you need to know - how much is enough? Eight hours is the amount that gets bandied around a lot, but sleep requirement is an individual 'thing' (technical term). You'll be doing yourself (and your body) a disservice if you try to function on someone else's schedule. So your husband/wife/lover/kids need five hours sleep per night? Good luck to them! If you need nine - get nine. If someone in your life is lucky enough to have the genetic makeup which requires amount 'X' doesn't mean you should acquiesce to them. They may need an education on the importance of sleep!
Don't feel ashamed or lazy if you need more than your partner. It's part of your genetic fingerprint. If they complain, send them to this page or ask them if they'd like to complain about your beautiful face (that presumably attracted them in the first place) because your sleep requirement is just as much a part of your genetic package as your face, bum, or any other part of your anatomy that they adore.
Okay, so how much do you need?
If you're one of those lucky, lucky people who only need three to fours a night - go for it! Spend all that extra time you have available writing your book, or working on your home business or catching up on ironing or old movies.
If, however, you
only get that amount because you're so stressed you can't sleep - this is not good. Your body is struggling,
whether you are aware of this or not, and you need to learn to de-stress as a matter of urgency. Join my Stresslessness Crusade! Or at least,
learn to meditate.
If you really don't know how much sleep you need, take note next time you can sleep in on a weekend, of how many hours of good quality sleep you enjoy. This is a good guide. Then make time in your schedule for that amount every night.
When you're getting enough sleep, everything is easier. You're more energized throughout the day, your thinking is clear, you can enjoy every moment and - you may not believe this - you don't eat as much junk! It's true! When we're tired we look for sugary fixes to pep us up, which in turn makes us feel worse - tired and fat! Were you previously aware of the importance of sleep with regard to your body shape?
You'll also be a nicer person if you're not tired, which of course has a positive impact on all your relationships and just makes a Happy Life so much easier to attain.
Routine is vital to good quality sleep. You may find it almost impossible to go to bed at the same time every single night (after all - there's fun to be had!) but if you can set your bedtime and stick to it as often as possible, you'll find your body is ready to sleep at the appointed hour - bad luck if you're on a hot date!
At the risk of sounding like a Grandma, a tip from my Mum........she has always maintained that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after. I have to say I tend to agree with her. I have found it to be true that you awake feeling better if you can get some sleep in before midnight. It may be an old wives' tale but if it makes you feel better.......why not experiment with that theory?
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I'm going to once again wheel out my two old warhorses, exercise and meditation, for your consideration. Exercise (but not just before bedtime) should make you physically tired, so your body is ready to sleep, and meditation will help your mind relax. I remember having the deepest sleep ever when I started meditating - just beautiful. Because it also has long-term de-stressing benefits, you'll find a space between you and whatever previously stressed you.See Happy Clients
A warm shower also works wonders for 'dropping off' ability, as do clean sheets. There's no snugglier feeling than climbing into a fresh bed after a warm shower........mmmmm......I could drop off just thinking about it!
Try to find an hour or so to relax before bed. If you work right up until bed, your mind will still be whirling with 'work-stuff' when your head hits the pillow. If you tend towards workaholism, at least have a book beside your bed (preferably not work related) to stop your head spinning. I found 'Moby Dick' to be the most boring book I've ever read (all those boring facts about whales!). You could get yourself a copy for those 'hard-to-get-to-sleep' nights!
Even though I'm a huge fan of red wine, I have found I usually wake up in the middle of the night after it's consumption! If you habitually partake in the odd glass or two and find yourself staring at the ceiling at 3am it may pay to try white instead. Not the same - I know - but you need your sleep!
Have you ever thought about the importance of sleep in regard to your personality? I've seen nice people turn into monsters when sleep-deprived. You are already aware, I'm sure, of the impact on our bodies of sleep-deprivation (it hasn't been used as a method of torture for nothing!). Tip your hat to the importance of sleep by ensuring you get your share. You deserve it. Your body deserves it. The people around you deserve it. Your Happy Life is impossible without it.
I want to leave you with one last tip for getting to sleep......the thing I do every night after I put my book down and turn off the light. I go to sleep feeling grateful for all the joy in my life. I think of 'little' things like a beautiful tree or bird I may have seen on my morning walk/run and the 'big' things like my children coming home safely (or you reading this page and deciding to subscribe to Happy Life The JJ Way, so I can remind you monthly of the importance of sleep, exercise, and other important aspects of your Happy Life.)
Every night, that's how I go to sleep - in a place of gratitude and contentment - no wonder I wake up happy and excited!
You could try the same thing tonight and see if it makes a difference to your life. Even if you don't, please make it your resolution from this moment on, to be conscious of the importance of sleep - it's vital to your Happy Life.