The Power of Sleep
I have a lovely baby daughter called Tallulah. Now Tallulah has a special power, that’s right, a real proper special power. Would you like to know what it is?? The main power Tallulah has is the ability to turn her dad into grumpy, sleep deprived, walking zombie!! “Now there is nothing new there”, I hear you say, and you would be absolutely correct. But on a serious note it’s important for our general wellbeing and health and fitness that we get the full quota of sleep and here is why and how we can improve the amount we get…
How Sleep Works
There are many common myths about sleep. We hear them frequently and may even experience them far too often. Sometimes they are “old wives tales,” but there are other times the incorrect information can be serious and even dangerous. So I have researched this topic and spoken to many professionals in the field and here is a list of common myths about sleep, and the facts that dispel them.
Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and depression are unrelated to the amount and quality of a person’s sleep
Studies have found a relationship between the quantity and quality of one’s sleep and many health problems. For example, insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity; as the amount of hormone secretion decreases, the chance for weight gain increases. Blood pressure usually falls during the sleep cycle; however, interrupted sleep can adversely affect this normal decline, leading to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. Research has also shown that insufficient sleep impairs the body’s ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. More and more scientific studies are showing correlations between poor and insufficient sleep and disease.
Snoring is a common problem, especially among men, but it isn’t harmful.
Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnoea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnoea is characterized by pauses in breathing that prevent air from flowing into or out of a sleeping person’s airways. The breathing pauses reduce blood oxygen levels, can strain the heart and cardiovascular system, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Snoring on a frequent or regular basis has been directly associated with hypertension. Obesity and a large neck can contribute to sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea can be treated; men and women, who snore loudly, especially if pauses in the snoring are noted, should consult a physician.
You can “cheat” on the amount of sleep you get.
Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behaviour, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.
Teens who fall asleep in class have bad habits and/or are lazy
According to sleep experts, teens need at least 8.5 – 9.25 hours of sleep each night, compared to an average of seven to nine hours each night for most adults. Their internal biological clocks also keep them awake later in the evening and keep them sleeping later in the morning. However, many schools begin classes early in the morning, when a teenager’s body wants to be asleep. As a result, many teens come to school too sleepy to learn, through no fault of their own.
The older you get, the fewer hours of sleep you need.
Sleep experts recommend a range of seven to nine hours of sleep for the average adult. While sleep patterns change as we age, the amount of sleep we need generally does not. Older people may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less night-time sleep, but their sleep need is no less than younger adults. Because they may sleep less during the night, older people tend to sleep more during the day. Naps planned as part of a regular daily routine can be useful in promoting wakefulness after the person awakens.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, it is best to lie in bed, count sheep, or toss and turn until you eventually fall back asleep.
Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a symptom of insomnia. Relaxing imagery or thoughts may help to induce sleep more than counting sheep, which some research suggests may be more distracting than relaxing. Whichever technique is used, most experts agree that if you do not fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed, go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity such as listening to music or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. Avoid watching the clock!
Hopefully this has given you an insight into the importance of sleep…zzzzzzz… oh sorry I drifted off then! It’s about keeping your body and mind having enough time to recuperate ready to tackle the next day’s endless list of jobs.