Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Practical Tuesday: October 15th, 2013

Over the last couple of weeks I've decided that I REALLY wish my brain came with a pre-installed shut off switch. Spending several nights a week tossing and turning, waking up at ungodly hours, and just generally missing out on one of my favorite past-times has taken its toll.

Besides the obvious side effects of puffy eyes, slower reflexes, lower concentration levels, and general grumpiness, chronic lack of sleep can cause and or exacerbate medical conditions. While there is no magick number for how many hours of sleep each individual should get each night, here are some good numbers to go by:

90 - the number of minutes it takes to complete one sleep cycle
4-6 - the number of sleep cycles you should have a night
8.5-10 - the number of hours a teen should be sleeping each night
7.5 - 9 - the number of hours an adult should be sleeping each night

Don't think chronic lack of sleep is all that bad? Consider this, not getting enough sleep, besides the things listed above, can increase the risk of:

Obesity - It might not JUST be our love of fast food that's making American's gain!
Heart disease - Which, of course, lead to:
Heart attack - and
Heart failure - because who needs a heart anyway? *sarcasm*
Irregular heartbeat
High blood pressure

*Look, it's a laundry list of common and rising US ailments! All this time they're trying to sell us drugs when all we need is to go to bed earlier! (I am not recommending you go against your doctor's directions!!!)

So who do you help improve your sleep?

Keep things dark - Melatonin, a chemical made by your body to help you sleep is only created when it's dark. Melatonin supplements can be purchased over the counter (check with your doctor or pharmacist for drug interactions). The supplements have a cumulative effect so the more you take them the better they work, meaning you should take them everyday for best results.

Put away the toys - Electronics, big or small, give off electromagnetic energy which disturbs your own energy patterns. You don't need to leave your cell phone on beside the bed...no, really you don't. If you're concerned about receiving a call in the night leaving it across the room on your dresser.

Limit activities in the bedroom to bedroom activities - This means no TV, no video games, no exercise equipment, etc. "But the TV helps me sleep!" Doubtful (see Put away the toys), it's more likely that the noise is helping you fall asleep and you can get the same effect from a fan or soft music (located across the room away from the bed). Remember, in order to make melatonin your body needs it dark! The light from the TV is not going to help this!!!

Have a routine - Get into the habit of giving your body cues that it's time for sleep. We do it for our kids: tubby time, a bedtime story, some snuggles. All these things tell our mind it's time to shut down. So set up your own routine: do the dishes, brush your teeth, read a book in bed (the book must be for pleasure not work!).

Write it down - If some thought keeps you up or wakes you up try not to dwell on it (easier said than done, I know). Keep a notebook and book light beside your bed. When some thought is bothering you write it down. The book light isn't bright enough to make your eyes dilate in that "OMG my eyes are going to burn out of their sockets" kinda way but will give you enough light to write.

Good night and sweet dreams.

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