Zzzzzzzzzzzzz….don’t we all wish we could get MORE sleep?
I want to share some thoughts on sleep if you’ll let me, important reasons to get more sleep, and some myths and facts about sleep.
A study completed in 2009 by Harvard Women’s Health Watch found that 75% of us have difficulties with sleep at least a few nights a week, while a short-bout of “insomnia” is ok and nothing to fret about, the biggest concern is long-term sleep loss. This can contribute to problems like weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in your immune system’s fighting power (http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/importance_of_sleep_and_health).
6 Reasons to Get More Sleep:
1. Sleep helps the brain with learning and memory. It helps the brain remember new information, and in studies, people who slept after learning a specific task did better on tests later on.
2. Long-term sleep deprivation may cause weight gain (say whaaaa??). It alters the way our body processes and stores carbs, as well as changing the levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
3. Not being able to sleep at night makes us more susceptible to falling asleep during the daytime. Yikes. This could mean work accidents, crashing your car, etc.
4. Losing sleep also does a number on your mood (just ask my husband). You can become irritable, impatient, unable to concentrate, and unable to do things that you normally like to do.
5. Something more serious…it can also affect the health of your heart. It can be linked to hypertension, increased stress hormones, and an irregular heartbeat.
6. Keeping up with sleep may help fight off cancer because you immune system will be able to function at its highest level. Without sleep, it will alter the way your immune system in a way that fighting off sickness and disease will be a lot harder.
Can we say “yikes?” Wouldn’t these reasons alone make you want to get your sleep? It’s still amazing to me that people will skimp out on their sleep because they feel like 1 hour less of sleep will give them 1 hour more to get things done in the day. Sacrificing sleep is probably one of the worst things you can do when it comes to being productive in your life, at home and at work. Less sleep actually equals less productivity at home or at your job because YOU’RE EXHASUTED. Your body needs it. Here are some quick tips you can try to help you get more sleep:
- Go to bed earlier…and actually set an alarm to tell you to GO TO BED. Sounds funny, huh? But if you don’t “ritualize” a specific bedtime, you’ll end up finding ways to stay up later, and later, and later. Set an alarm. Go to bed early. Get your sleep.
- Start winding down earlier than you think. No, not 5 minutes beforehand, not even 10 minutes beforehand…try 45!! You won’t fall asleep if you’re on your phone or computer answering email or doing other work. Drink a cup of tea, read a dull book, and you should feel tired in no time.
- Write down what’s on your mind. To-do list for tomorrow, unresolved issues, etc. If you leave items in your working memory, it’ll be harder to fall asleep, and you’ll end up thinking of them NON-STOP if you should wake up during the night.
(Those are just SOME tips that you can try…what are yours??? I’d love to know!)
There is a lot of information out there about sleep, but what I want to do at this point is get rid of the myths and provide you with facts.
You need 8 hours of sleep.
FACT – 8 hours is not the magic number. It depends on the person. You will only know what works for you. If with 6 hours you feel like you’re nodding off during the day, then you need more.
More sleep is always healthier.
FACT – Hmmm…Some studies actually disagree with this. This one is a toughy because scientists are not sure if longer sleep causes poor health or is a symptom of it. Longer sleepers might suffer from problems like sleep apnea or depression.
Some people can function on 4 hours of sleep.
FACT – I think those people just don’t realize how sleepy they are. Thomas Roth, PhD, a sleep researcher at Henry Ford Hospital has said that too little sleep is bad for your health and your image. Like mentioned before, it impairs performance and the ability to pay attention, it weakens your immune system, and can contribute to weight gain. Women who only slept 5 hours or less each night were a 3rd more likely to gain 33 pounds or more over 16 hears than women who slept 7 or more hours.
You can make up for lost sleep on the weekends.
FACT – Harvard sleep expert Robert Stickgold, PhD, actually calls this “sleep bulimia.” … Bingeing on Zs over the weekend and not sleeping during the week. This will upset your circadian rhythms and make it harder to get good, refreshing sleep. Instead of correcting your deficit, you actually set up a no-sleep cycle for the week to come. Consistency is key in sleep (and it other things in life as well!), so it’s best to get up and out of bed at the same time every day even on the weekends.
(Side-note, no way in heck will I get up at 4:15am just because I get up that early during the week for work….but I do sleep til 7am and I’m worked out, fed, and showered by 9am most mornings and ready to start my day!)
I covered A TON of things in this post, myths and facts, reasons to get sleep, and some tips on how to get more and better sleep. Feel free to share with me some tips that you do and any thing that I didn’t mention!