Sleep... it can be as individual and unique as any of the people searching for it. Some of us love to sleep late, some to rise early, and some to avoid sleep as much as humanly possible. *Cough cough, my oldest child*
Some of us sleep bundled in loads of blankets, some with the air conditioner cranked and feet sticking out, and still some on top of all of the blankets like a serial killer. (Seriously, who doesn't use blankets?)
Some of us sleep on our sides, and some on our bellies, some on our backs with our arms up over our heads, contorted in ways that will make steering the car challenging in the morning.
Regardless of our unique sleep habits and preferences, the one thing we all have in common is that we NEED sleep. And often, more of it than we are getting.
The professionals claim that we all need an average of 7 hours of sleep per night. I'm looking at you, Mr. " I only need 4 hours and 3 energy drinks." And of course, this doesn't include children and teens who actually need quite a bit more depending on their age and current phase in growth/development.
The side effects of getting less than 7 hours per night can be rather daunting and include:
Loss of memory retention
Depression and Anxiety
Not to mention exacerbating any underlying mental/neurological conditions and contributing to excess paranoia, mania, and obsessive or suicidal thoughts.
Even with small amounts of sleep deprivation your immune system isn't able to produce enough of the necessary antibodies and cytokines to fight off illnesses and your immune system weakens. Hello, Flu season!
Lack of healthy sleep patterns is also linked to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, plus obesity, heart attack, and stroke. This is because sleep is necessary to manage healthy levels of insulin following meals and to build the bodies tolerance to glucose. And the processes that protects and heals blood vessels and the heart are heavily influenced by sleep.
Even the hormone levels in your body are affected by sleep and those hormones control a lot of important things in our bodies. For example: Men need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep to maintain healthy testosterone levels and low testosterone in men can lead to:
Reduced body and facial hair
Loss of muscle mass
Increased breast size
Irritability, poor concentration and depression
Loss of body hair
And (For both Men and Women):
Brittle bones and an increased risk of fracture
Low Libido/Self Esteem
But here's the good news. For most of us, getting a good night's sleep comes down to establishing and maintaining a few good habits. here are a few to give a try:
*Increase natural light exposure during the day. (Open the blinds/Take a walk)
*Reduce or illuminate blue light (From Screens) within 2 hours of bedtime
* Reduce caffeine consumption, especially after Noon. And surprisingly, reduce alcohol consumption in the evening.
* Set a consistent sleep schedule with only small changes to this schedule during the weekends.
If you've mastered these and need some additional help here are a few helpful tips:
*Try conscious relaxation before you hit the sheets. (Yoga or stretching, a hot shower or bath, Journaling about all the things swirling around in your head. Intimate time with your partner! yep, I said it.)
* Set the temperature in your bedroom lower. (Most people claim 70 is comfortable. In our house, this would be way too hot!)
*Use white Noise or Soundscapes to lull you to sleep and to keep outside noise from waking you. (We use the calm App and Better Sleep app.)
*Try bedtime meditations or sleep stories. (Again, with the Calm App and BetterSleep. But youtube has plenty for free as well!)
And if you wake and can't get back to sleep. Get out of bed! How crazy is that! Keep the lights low and digital devices off but get up. Move around quietly, get a drink, listen to some soft music, and address that ache in your back with some stretches. Then wait for sleepiness to return naturally.
Wishing you sweet dreams and a life that is happier, healthier, and more delicious!
The Stevens Family @ Rocking 5 S Farms