February 06, 2017

Count Your Sheep: Why Sleep is So Important!



 Sleep is one of the basic components of human life. Studies have averaged that in a lifetime, a person will sleep 26 years, about 33 percent of our lives. Sleep is how our body heals and recharges for our everyday activities. It is thought that Americans with our hectic lives have less sleep than most of the world. Roughly 35% of American adults have less than 7 hours of sleep a night and globally, sleep has been on the decline since the 1970's. The decline in hours of sleeping can be linked with the use of electronics and the Internet on the rise.

On average it is said 40 million people have a chronic sleep disorder. Familiar signs of a sleep disorder can be being overly tired throughout the day, irritability, memory problems, problems falling asleep in general, irregular breathing, and various other issues. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Insomnia is when an individual has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It is said to affect almost 60% of adults once a week. Insomnia is generally caused by stress levels, disturbances by light/sound/temperature during sleep, various prescriptions for other health issues and other medical conditions. While insomnia generally affects older individuals, there are sleep disorders that affect mainly children. Night terrors and sleepwalking will affect small children but are occasionally seen in adults. Night terrors are something I personally experienced growing up and for parents they are very alarming. During a night terror, an individual will sleepwalk, shout/scream, excessively sweat, and have no recollection of what they went through. After reviewing the most common issues with a lack of sleep, lets see what more sleep can do for you.

Average adults are supposed to have 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. The best way to regulate sleep is to consciously go to bed at the same time everyday. This overall will allow you to wake up easier and fall asleep faster. One of the first benefits that would be quickly noticed is improved memory. While you sleep, your brain goes through various stages of sleep. Going through these stages of sleep allows the brain to maintain and remember what we know and how we perform tasks. A healthy amount of sleep is necessary to learn and maintain new information. Sleep is also shown to keep our hearts healthy. Studies show an increase in stress hormones due to lack of sleep which add to the heart working harder. An improper amount of sleep and your heart doesn't rest either! Sleep allows our immune system to recharge and keeps our mood brighter. One lesser known fact about sleep, is that more sleep increases our tolerance to pain.

There are many ways that are available that help people sleep easier. There is the widely used natural supplement melatonin, theories about exposure to ambient blue light, yoga specifically for bed time, breathing exercises, to name a few. Today's society is very fast paced but without slowing down and getting adequate sleep, you will not be able to keep up for long. It is said that people can only survive for 10 days without any sleep! So make sure you're counting enough sheep every night.

'Til next type – M