The Importance of Sleep

 

I found out the importance of sleep after a long time ago when I used to work at McDonald’s and do 12-hour shifts.  What I found was that I became scatter-brained and basically  began to feel very unhealthy.  I was also eating the McDonald’s food during the two breaks that I had. So when you think about this – a combination of missing breakfast at home, eating McDonald’s food for my breaks and doing 12-hour shifts gave me

  1.  Very poor concentration.

  2.  Memory lapse 

  3.  Irritability

If you are one of those people who is always constantly on the go and work at night, especially if you’re a student, you will find that in the longer term the problems can expand to include poor immune functions, weight imbalance, even  worse high  cholesterol, blood sugar levels, higher blood pressure and a general feeling of being less competent.

Your body will be dealing with more toxins, facing more repair work, being overwhelmed by more information and everything starts functioning less efficiently.

This excerpt about Poor sleep patterns was taken from from an A Vogel  pamphlet by Alison Cullen.. I found that you need sufficient time in stages 4 and 5 of your sleep cycle in order to regenerate sufficiently to be fully functional the next day. In stage 4, your body is is doing repairs and restoration work. Body tissues are mending, organs are offloading, and growth or regeneration work is taking place.

This is one of the reasons why teenagers need such a lot of sleep – they are growing physically, and at the same time developing their sexual organs. It’s tough work! So long as they can get sufficient good quality sleep deep, however, they can do the physical side of development without too much trouble.  Emotionally, they benefit for plenty of sleep too, as stage 5 allows them to sort out their experiences efficiently.

‘Junk Sleep’ is a term coined by the Sleep Council, a British organisation. that investigates sleep and aims to help people improve their chances of a solid bit of kip.

Junk Sleep is sleep that is neither long enough, nor good enough quality to restore the brain to the level needed to perform well the next day.

There are certain kinds of medication that disturb the quality of your sleep. For example, if you are on anti-psychotic medication, like Risperidone or Haloperidol or Paliperidone ,you will find that you do not remember the dreams that you might have had during the night. Stage 5 is also known as rapid eye movement sleep when you dream and your brain is typically as active as during wakefulness with your blood flow and breathing speeding up from their stage 4 levels of sleep pattern.

Mental and emotional issues are dealt with during this time, allowing you to sort out the day’s experiences and potentially come up with answers to problems.

When you don’t get sufficient (if any) Stages 4 and 5, and this leaves you feeling as if your time in bed just rumpled the sheets without benefiting you at all.

Healthy Night Sleep Pattern

Note how much of the time is spent in the lower half of the peaks and troughs where the restorative work is going on.

Insomnia

An unhealthy night spent bobbing around in the initial stages of sleep rather than sinking peacefully in two stages 4 and 5 but sufficient length of time.

Getting a good night’s sleep therefore influences the quality of our waking life quite dramatically.   What can we do ensure that we get it?

One thing I found is that the use of playing games on your telephone late to the early hours of the morning and watching Netflix during the night is specifically bad for your sleeping pattern.  I found that when I first got my mobile phone I discovered that I could not sleep on time. 

Since then I’ve realised it must have been the backlight or the blue light that the phone was emanating to me as  I was under the covers playing games. Once I realised this I stopped playing games on my phone in the night under the covers and – low and behold – my sleeping patterns returned back to normal.

 

Don’t Light Up the Night.

As we approach night time, more of the sleep hormone, melatonin, is secreted by the pineal gland, helping us to become sleepy. This period is usually around 16 hours after waking is produced in response to fading light levels. If your environment is full of bright artificial light your melatonin may not be produced effectively.

Your internal biological clock plays particular attention to the light at the blue end of the spectrum such as that produced by energy efficient light bulbs, smartphones tablets and computers.

Having plenty of electronic gadgetry in your bedroom is therefore a perfect way of disrupting your body clock.

Removing short wavelength blue light from your immediate surroundings as you wind down for bed will reduce the risk of resetting yours circadian rhythm by postponing the release of melatonin.

Keep your gadgets for the morning and your bed free from technology..

Snack Your Way To Sleep

Eating food that is high in saturated fat and sugar and low in fibre is associated with sleep that is lighter, less restorative and more disrupted.

In research, increasing fibre intake improved the amount of time spent in deep slow wave sleep. Less of this slow wave sleep was experienced when eating more saturated fat. The more sugar participants ate the more arousals from sleep they underwent. Adjusting your diet could therefore count towards achieving some better quality sleep as these adjustments are associated with other health benefits such as weight loss which then reduces the chances of snoring. It’s a winning strategy.

Other aspects of your diet to consider are these:  Don’t eat a heavy meal late at night,  as this could give you nightmares. But keep your evening meal light and early for a better sleep later on. 

Sleep (Not Too Sweetly)

There are more benefits by sleeping well if you tend to like your sweet foods and maybe leaning towards the pre-diabetic spectrum.  A small study shows that lean people with normal glucose tolerance habitually getting less than 6 hours sleep per night had increased insulin secretion and a higher index of insulin resistance . a combination that  put them at higher risk of developing diabetes.   Lean people with normal glucose tolerance who habitually slept more than 6 hours per night did not show the same insulin profile.

if you’re at risk of developing diabetes then missing out on sleep may increase the likelihood.

(Snooze, Don’t Booze)

A nightcap can be perceived as helping to get you to sleep initially, but  as it wears off, it has a stimulating effect after around 3 a.m. It can then prove difficult to get back to sleep.   Allow a 4-6 hour window between alcoholic drinks and bedtime it’s a better sleep.

Just thinking of earlier times, I used to drink Guinness just maybe half a glass, to make me fall asleep but what I found is that if I haven’t had adequate meals at least a week before, I was just making myself kind of sleepy. But I never could fall asleep properly. So for 2 or 3 days I would go without sleep.

But what I found now is that if I have heavy meals at around 6 and heavy meals at  around 1 to 2pm, I have a really good sleep. I also noticed that if I drink juices and have a lot of juice before I go to bed then I have a lighter sleep and wake up between 5 and 6 in the morning. 

Watch Your Caffeine Intake!

Now one thing I know about caffeine is that it can cause you to really stay wide awake and get to the point where you’re having trouble sleeping.  Some people find they have to cut it out completely to improve their sleeping patterns. Replacing black coffee with  green tea can be helpful as green tea can be quite calming. Remember that caffeine is also found in fizzy drinks, energy drinks and chocolate.  However the good thing about chocolate though is that does help you sleep and the level of caffeine in chocolate is nowhere near to the level of a Nescafe drink!

Adjust Your Sleeping Habits To Pin Down More Sleep

Plan for Success.

One of the best techniques for better sleep is a good wind down routine for adults us for young children. stop watching television or playing electronic games or using your laptop at least an hour before your bedtime. have a woman bath and read or listen to a relaxation CD so that you don’t have to think about it anymore tonight so if you don’t overeat.

Wind Down to Recharge Efficiently

Speedy Sleep

Being fatigued can impair the speed and accuracy of psychomotor performance just as much as high blood alcohol levels. Research has shown that measures of performance speed were always impaired by both lack of sleep and high blood alcohol.

Don’t Be Alarmed

Consider sleep architecture when setting your alarm clock. Our sleep cycles last around 90 minutes. Aim to wake up in between these Cycles rather than in the middle of one, by setting your alarm for multiples of 90.  For example, if you usually go to sleep at 10 p.m. set your alarm for 6:30 a.m. rather than 6 a.m. or 7 am. Waking at the end of a sleep cycle instead of been dragged out of the middle of one is a far pleasant experience and sets you up for a better morning.

Do the maths for a marvellous morning.

 

Sleep Smart

Students revising for exam should consider sleep as an integral part of their revision programme as cutting back on sleep may reduce  performance by up to 40%!!

Now this is something that I and – I’m sure you – did not know.

 

Herbal Help

One thing I find about herbs is that lavender essential oil – a few drops on your pillow case before you go to sleep – can really help you doze off easily. So – whilst many people don’t respond well to sleep medication or wish to avoid it, there’s a long history of using herbal remedies to help with sleep problems.

One of the issues with sleep is that not going through the proper sleep cycles involving all the sleep stages in the right amount can leave you feeling just as bad as if you hadn’t slept at all. This can be some people’s experience with medication which tends to  knock you out rather than ease you into a ‘fully stage’ and restorative cycle.

Herbal remedies are often able to restore the corrective ‘cycling’ ensures you wake up fresh even if you’re not sleeping for hours longer.

A trial of a fresh extract of Valerian and Hops demonstrate exactly this point, as much better sleep cycles were seen in the herbal group in comparison to the placebo group. This ‘Sleep’ Pamphlet goes on for a lot more than this but what I thought I’d show you is that you will find that instead of having eye bags and sleep furrows in your face because of lack of sleep, your skin looks better in the morning when you look at your skin weekly over a period of a month. You find that instead of looking older you will look younger but just because you’ve had 8-9 hours of sleep okay!

Now for those of you who love going to the gym it’s alright! You’ll find that you exercise during the day and your body repairs in the night so I’m sure you understand that sleep is very important for those of you have poor sleeping habits or are not sleeping due to itching at night.   

Taking a Dead Sea salt bath before you go to sleep can really relax you.  If this has been of interest to you and you’d like to know more about sleeping and the effects of sleep on your psyche, your mood and your skin, then let me know. Have a nice day!

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8 thoughts on “The Importance of Sleep

  1. Suz says:

    Wow, you seem to have done so much information on how sleep is really important for our immune system. The way you can explain about how sleep can help us grow mentally and also physically. I usually have issues with sleep sometimes and this is because of the amount of work that I do. Thanks for the information.

    • Stella says:

      That’s alright, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about the importance of sleep.  Staying awake late at night on a computer will always tend towards finding it difficult to doze off quickly.

  2. Bruce says:

    One of the things I don’t joke about is my sleep. it affects me a great deal and whenever I don’t sleep well or i miss my sleep, it gives me migraine. This is a nice article you’ve posted here, it is very true that the place of sleep can’t be over emphasized, it keeps the brain refreshed. Thanks for sharing

    • Stella says:

      That’s interesting to note – I didn’t know that not sleeping adequately incurs a migraine!  We all live to learn something new each day…

  3. Justin says:

    We have to really make out time to sleep no matter how difficult our day job can be because lack of sleep can really have adverse effects on the individual and the memory loss that comes with it can really be a huge problem and we definitely don’t want to face that. I have had difficulty sleeping in the past and it’s not something I want to go through again

    • Stella says:

      One way of ensuring a good night’s sleep is by switching off and leaving the electronic gadgets we own in the front room or in a side drawer.  That way, we can wind down more easily from a hard day’s work.

      Hopefully, you have sussed how to sleep better for your own health…

  4. Russell says:

    In our fast paced world, at times we are made to feel guilty if we choose sleep over any other thing, including pleasure. There was a time when the need to get adequate sleep was recognized as essential and was encouraged. In those days shifts were eight hours long. That has changed to the twelve hour shift and no more attention is paid to the need for meaningful sleep or rest. 

    There have been times when I did not get enough sleep and I was lousy all of the next day. The shortest period of inactivity felt as though my body was shutting down on me. When I did finally get the rest, I was fine again. O, and sleep in the day cannot compensate for loss of night sleep.

    • Stella says:

      We need to sleep to recover from the stresses from the previous days.  And also if we can manage to go one step further and have dreams in our sleep then we know we have fully rested from the day before.

      You sound as if you are pretty knowledgeable about this subject…I hope I’ve enlightened you even further.

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