Why Do We Need Sleep?
Our bodies require sleeping in the same way they require eating, drinking and breathing. Sleep is a recovery period that we need, and it balances out a healthy lifestyle.
“It is not just about sleep. It is about overall health, our quality of life. It is about our heart and our brain,” says Dr. Deepak Khemka, Sleep Disorders Intervention Psychiatrist at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services.
If you’re eating healthy and exercising, chances are that without a proper sleep cycle, you’re not reaping the full benefits.
As we sleep, our bodies produce extra protein molecules that help strengthen our ability to fight infection and stay healthy. These molecules help the immune system mend our bodies when we are stressed or have been exposed to compromising elements such as pollutants and infectious bacteria. When we don’t sleep a full cycle of 7+ hours, the body doesn’t have the time to completely recover.
Sleep deprivation also makes it difficult to concentrate or focus. This can lead to memory problems with faces, facts or conversations. A good night of sleep will eliminate these difficulties because, as you sleep, your brain is busy organizing and correlating memories. This allows your brain to better process new experiences and knowledge, and increase understanding and retention. Does the phrase “sleep on it” ring a bell, perhaps?
On top of all of the technical and scientific reasoning, your body just feels better when you’ve had 7+ hours of sleep. You feel livelier, and you can spend your time and energy on things you need to accomplish instead of spending it on figuring out where your mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee is going to come from.
Fatigue is Not Normal
Contrary to our hustle-and-bustle ways, it’s not normal to feel fatigued every day. Good sleep habits can quickly cure that 3 p.m. feeling that we’re all too familiar with. If you still feel fatigued after modifying your sleep routine, more serious problems could exist. Because we are so used to feeling exhausted all the time, it makes it difficult to tell when more serious health problems arise that could be related to fatigue.
Light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The light given off by devices such as computers, tablets, cell phones and e-readers has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling charged past bedtime. Unplugging also gives you the opportunity to read, spend time with your family and reflect on the day, which are all things successful people do before they go to bed.
Create a Routine
The most important part of a good sleep routine is to make it consistent. Try to maintain a similar schedule during the week and on weekends. You’ll pay for that one night of staying up too late or sleeping the weekend away during the next week.
Maybe your routine depends on the routine of others. Get your family into a consistent sleep routine with appropriate bedtimes and set some “no exceptions” rules, such as no TV and electronics before bed. Remember, your actions will be the example for this one!