Why should we get good Sleep?
From the moment our babies are born, we spend an huge amount of time looking into sleep routines, sleep training, getting our little ones to go to sleep and then to sleep through the night. We fret and grumble when we have an interrupted night. We are told to take naps if we can to bolster our sleep quota. We are hit with adverts telling us to use a special mattresses and pillows, a certain type of light to use or not to use, not to use electronics close to bedtime (guilty as charged) , and to create a soothing and calming bedroom environment.
We are obsessed with sleep. I mean. how many times can you honestly say your last words to your child or partner is “Sleep well” and the first ones in the morning are “How’d you sleep?” or “Did you sleep okay?” We talk about our sleep with friends. It is such a big part of everything. It affects our mood, our attitude about everything, our ability to function effectively in our daily lives and our health.
We spend time worrying about sleep. Reading articles about sleep and wondering if we and our kids are getting too much, too little or if the quality of our sleep is good enough. I even wear a sleep tracker to bed…it, along with an app on my phone, it tells me how much time I am in light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep.It buzzes me when it’s bed time and when it’s time to get up. It also has a “coach” feature that gives me hints and tips on how to improve my sleep.
So why is sleep so important? What benefits does it hold for us?
Sleep Improves memory
Even though your body shuts off and recuperates while you sleep, your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation). This means sleep is especially important when you are in a learning environment or acquiring new skills.
Getting enough sleep helps your brain remember what you learn. This is true for adults and children so if you’re studying, it’s sensible to get some sleep and not to pull all-nighters!
Sleeps helps keep your body healthy
Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep—six or fewer hours a night—have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.
- Muscles, bones, and skin can grow
- Muscles, skin and other parts can fix injuries
- Body can stay healthy and fight sickness
- Fight sickness so you stay healthy
I suffer from Psoriasis, not all the time, but I do experience flare ups. One of the things my dermatologist said was to make sure I got enough sleep and tried to reduce inflammation in my body. I have taken this seriously (hence the sleep tracker) and have been clear now for almost 2 years! I attribute this to a huge over haul of my diet and making an effort to sleep better and exercise more.
Sleeps help you be more creative
During sleep, your brain consolidates memories, making them stronger, and it also reorganises and restructures them, which can result in more creativity as well. It is almost like the mind does admin while you sleep. Filing everything from the day into the right places. When your brain is more organised, you are better equipped to solve problems and be creative. A rested and organised brain is also more able to think of new ideas.
Sleep helps improve athletic performance
If you’re an athlete or keen on improving in your sport, there is one simple way to improve your performance and that’s through sleep. A Stanford University study found that football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less fatigue and increased stamina. Giving your body enough rest after hard physical activity, actually makes your ability to perform that much better.
Sleeps Improves your academic attainment
According to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep, children ages of 10 to 16 who snore, have sleep apnea, or any other type of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning. This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote.
If you child suffers from any of these , it would be worthwhile having it checked out. My 8 year old snores, but not all the time. It seems to be related to illness. I do take note of his behaviour and attention ability the next day and can say he seems more sluggish and irritable than on the days he sleeps uninterrupted. I will definitely keep an eye on this as he grows up!
Sleep improves attention
Ever noticed how children behave after a poor night? A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids. Children don’t seem to react the same way to a lack of sleep as adults do. Adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.
A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages 7-8 who got less than eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive. Sleeping helps you pay attention, concentrate and stay focussed! This is particularly important for school going age children. Tiredness can seriously affect their school day.
Sleep aids a healthy weight
Dieters feel more hungry when they get less sleep. I know I have had this problem. It’s then that I reach for the sugar laden foods to give myself a quick energy boost. Of course this boost does not last long and I’m left wanting more sugar to keep going…any we all know that sugar is not a healthy thing to eat for a healthy body. “Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” Dr. Rapoport says. “When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.” So if you are looking to maintain a healthy weight or to loose some weight, get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep lowers stress levels
Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress. Stress isn’t good for anyone. It raises your blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease. Sleep helps to reduce stress by allowing us time to switch off and recharge. Sleep gives our bodies and minds a chance to repair and to disconnect from the stresses of the day. Make a point of keeping a regular bedtime and give yourself time to unwind and prepare for bed. I try to go to bed at the same time each night and my body is so in tune with my bedtime now, that I feel myself falling asleep and I know the time without checking my clock. This can be very annoying..uh..embarrassing when I head out for the rare night out. Yawning at 10:30 is not a good look!
Sleep improves you mood
Ever noticed how everyone irritates you or your tolerance levels diminish when you have not had a good night? A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep. It helps you maintain a good mood. So it stands to reason that getting good sleep will help you get along with friends, family and colleagues.
If those are not enough superb reasons to hit the sack, then I don’t know what are! I recommend snuggling down in your carefully lit/darkened room, on your perfectly chosen mattress and pillow, in the exactly right temperature, far from electronics, at a time that offers you the best chance for a full 7 hours sleep. Perform the rituals that help you relax, prepare and head to the land of nod in the best frame of mind.
If you manage all these…well done you! I’m still working on them myself.
Good night, sleep tight!