It’s a basic necessity of life, as important to our health and well-being as air, food and water. When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed, alert and ready to face daily challenges. When we don’t, every part of our lives can suffer. Our jobs, relationships, productivity, health and safety (and that of those around us) are all put at risk. And lack of sleep due to sleep loss or sleep disorders is taking a serious toll.
The 2002 National Sleep Foundation (NSF) Sleep in America poll found that 74 percent of American adults are experiencing a sleeping problem a few nights a week or more, 39% get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight, and more than one in three (37%) are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with daily activities. In the past century, we have reduced our average time in sleep. Though our society has changed, our brains and bodies have not. Sleep deprivation is affecting us all and we are paying the price.
Getting enough sleep refers to the amount of sleep you need to not feel sleepy the next day. If sleepiness interferes with or makes it difficult to do your daily activities, you probably need more sleep. Although sleep experts generally recommend an average of 7-9 hours per night, some people can get along with less while others need as much as ten hours to feel alert the next day. Sleep requirements vary over the life cycle. Newborns and infants need a lot of sleep and have several periods of sleep throughout a 24-hour time period. Naps are important to them as well as to toddlers who may nap up to the age of 5. As children enter adolescence, their sleep patterns shift to a later sleep-wake cycle, but they still need around 9 hours of sleep. Throughout adulthood, even as we get older, we need 7-9 hours of sleep. Sleep patterns may change, but the need for sleep remains the same.
THE FIVE LEVELS OF SLEEP
As we begin to fall asleep, we enter REM, which is composed of Stages 1-4.
Stage 1 Light sleep; between being awake and entering sleep
Stage 2 Onset of sleep; becoming disengaged with the environment; breathing and heart rate are regular and body temperature goes down
Stage 3 & 4 Deepest and most restorative sleep; blood pressure drops; breathing slower; energy regained; and hormones are released for growth and development
REM: 25% of night
TIPS FOR GOOD SLEEP
” Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) and nicotine (cigarettes, tobacco products) close to bedtime.
” Avoid alcohol as it can lead to disrupted sleep.
” Exercise regularly, but complete your workout at least 3 hours before bedtime.
” Establish a regular relaxing, not alerting, bedtime routine (e.g. taking a bath or relaxing in a hot tub).
” Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and preferably cool and comfortable.
How’s Your Sleep?
CHECK IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY TO YOU:
” Snore loudly
” You or others have observed that you stop breathing or gasp for breath during sleep
” Feel sleepy or doze off while watching TV, reading, driving or engaged in daily activities
” Have difficulty sleeping 3 nights a week or more (e.g., trouble falling asleep, wake frequently during the night, wake too early and cannot get back to sleep or wake unrefreshed)
” Feel unpleasant, tingling, creeping feelings or nervousness in your legs when trying to sleep
” Interruptions to your sleep (e.g., nighttime heartburn, bad dreams, pain, discomfort, noise, sleep difficulties of family members, light or temperature)
” If this is you talk to Dr. Keefe
You can get a full 8 hours of sleep but if you went to bed at 2am and woke up at 10am, you will not be in tip top shape. Definitely not compared to if you slept at 10pm and woke up at 6am. It’s crucial to have not only the right amount of sleep, but to also sleep at the right time. The best time range to go to bed to help you wake up in great shape is between 9pm and midnight.
From 11pm to 3am, most of your blood circulation concentrates in your liver. Your liver gets larger when filled with more blood. This is an important time when your body undergoes detoxification process. Your liver neutralizes and breaks down body toxins accumulated throughout the day. However if you don’t sleep at this time, your liver cannot carry out this detoxification process smoothly.
When your brain is sleep deprived it’s very hard to maintain focus and so conversations are a big challenge. It’s only normal to want to completely control the mechanism of conversations when you feel out of control in maintaining your thought process. Anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks of proper sleep will make conversations 1000 times easier. Your ability to construct thoughts and ideas and put those thoughts and ideas into productive words and phrases will just flow from a healthy brain that’s had enough sleep. The amount of stress in your personal life your family live your social life will just start to melt away.