If you think you can get by on a few hours of sleep, think again. You may feel like you can manage on minimal sleep when in fact your body will not function optimally without adequate sleep. Research indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), increased levels of ghrelin (a hunger stimulating hormone), decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis (needed for energy production and storage). These are just a few of the chemical reactions that take place with lack of sleep. There are many more implications of sleep deprivation…mood swings, lack of mental focus, weight gain, and depression, to name just a few!
Your body heals at rest and your organs are given a break while you sleep. Proper sleep is what is needed to physically and psychologically recover from the stresses of life. One or two nights of shortened sleep will not have much of a negative impact but consistent lack of sleep will lead to changes in hormone levels; with many negative effects to how you feel and function.
Your quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity. Seven to eight hours of sleep nightly is ideal. Some good sleep hygiene habits for improved sleep are:
– sleep in a dark, quiet room
– ensure room temperature is comfortable and well ventilated
– sleep in comfortable clothing or ideally in the nude
– avoid screen time before bed (TV, computer, video games, etc)
– avoid eating a heavy meal before bed
– avoid drinking caffeine four to six hours before bed
– avoid eating spicy, sugary foods close to bedtime
– avoid napping during the day
– establish a bedtime routine with pre-sleep rituals (warm bath, reading, meditating) and a regular bedtime
– bedtime teas may help induce restful sleep (Chammomile, Passion Flower, Valerian Root)
– a Naturopathic remedy such as Bach Flowers “Sleep Rescue Remedy” may promote sleep
– exercise regularly, but not before bed
– reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex, that’s it
– clear your mind, write down your thoughts before bed, allowing them to leave your mind
Snuggle up…sleep as snug as a bug in a rug!