Happy Friday, my friends! Welcome to my 29th One Simple Change post.
I think it’s high time we talk about SLEEP. I have a fair amount to say on this subject, so I am going to divide this post into 2 parts. Here in part 1, I’ll discuss why sleeping well is essential to good health; I’ll also define a good nights sleep. In part 2, I will talk about reasons why you might not be sleeping well, and I’ll offer some tips for improving your sleep if it’s less than ideal.
Let me kick this post off by letting you know that I am not a sleep expert (I am pretty sure you already knew that). I am just someone with an educational background in holistic health which means I’ve long understood that good sleep is intimately connected to good health. Also, I’ve done a lot of research on sleep over the years to help out various members of my family who struggle in this area.
Why is sleeping important?
Deep rest for a good many hours each and every night allows us to be at our best every day. When we don’t sleep well, things like our attention, concentration, memory, motivation, and mental performance will suffer. We also, obviously, feel tired when we don’t sleep well. Who hasn’t missed out on some winks and then felt crappy the next day? I personally feel terrible when I don’t get enough sleep.
But good sleep is needed for much more than your mind and for energy…it’s a time when muscles and other bodily tissues, as well as your organs, are undergoing restoration. Sleep is also a time when hormones that regulate the immune system and the appetite/metabolism are being produced. I don’t want to get into all the hormones involved because it’s too much to talk about here, but suffice it to say that not getting enough sleep can actually make you sick (poor sleep has been linked to health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and depression). Not sleeping enough can also negatively affect your weight.
What is a good night’s sleep?
For most people, a good night’s sleep is the ability to fall asleep right away and sleep deeply for at least 8 hours. Some individuals may be able to get away with an average of 7 hours per night, but less than that probably isn’t enough. If you have a history of sleep deprivation, a lot of stress in your life, or if you are dealing with an acute or chronic health issue, you probably want to strive for an even longer sleeping stretch on a regular basis…you might need as much as 10 hours per night. Note that these numbers are what I am suggesting for adults…children have different sleeping requirements.
If you always have trouble falling asleep or if you habitually wake up in the night and can’t fall back to sleep, then you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. If you toss and turn and wake up a lot, then you’re not getting a good night’s sleep either.
Many experts in the field of natural health believe it’s best to get to bed by 10 pm on a regular basis because your organs (including the very important adrenal glands) rest and replenish in the early nighttime hours. This is hugely problematic for many people…including myself…especially on the weekends when the tendency is to stay up late and then sleep in. While it may seem like you’re getting enough sleep if you stay up until 2 am and then sleep until 10 am, it’s not nearly as good for your body as if you sleep from 10 pm until 6 am.
So what about you? How many hours do you sleep each night? Do you get to bed early? Do you feel rested during the day? Are you all set in the sleep department or is this something you need help with? As I said above, I’ll be publishing a part 2 to this post with recommendations for how to get a better night’s sleep naturally. Look for that post in a couple of days ;)
Sources consulted for this article:
Sleep Away the Pounds: Optimize Your Sleep and Reset Your Metabolism for Maximum Weight Loss
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival
The Schwarzbein Principle, The Program: Losing Weight the Healthy Way
Take Control of Your Health