Most of us don’t realize the importance of sleep until we are unable to perform daily tasks because we are too exhausted. We tend to take sleep for granted by not getting the proper amount of restful sleep we need every night due to late night social functions and improper bedtime habits.
Since we live in a fast-paced, high-tech world we have artificial lights and 24-hour businesses that are accessible at all hours of the day or night and encourage us to stay up late. When we lack sleep we begin to feel irritable, unable to focus and our immune system lowers making us susceptible to colds and infections. Not getting a goodnight’s sleep increases the amount of stress in our life which impacts our performance in our personal life and career.
[box type="note"]Today’s society is putting less and less importance on the need for good quality sleep and the consequences are leading to increased accidents operating vehicles and machinery, reduced productivity in the workplace and increased health conditions.[/box]
While we are asleep, our body goes through a cycle of several levels of sleep. Each level of sleep has a purpose and is vital for recharging, rejuvenating and detoxifying our body. Some of the major role our body performs while sleeping is repairing and creating new cells that have been damaged or depleted from rigorous physical activities, toxins and stress.
As we sleep, we also produce hormones that are released at specific times during our sleep cycle. One important hormone that is released during the sleep cycle is called melatonin a powerful antioxidant located in the brain is used to prevent cancer and other health conditions. In addition, melatonin plays a significant role in regulating our internal rhythm called circadian rhythm which affects our body’s natural 24-hour cycle.
While we are sleeping complete darkness is needed to send a signal to the brain to increase melatonin secretion which causes drowsiness and naturally puts us to sleep. Any interruptions during sleep such as exposure to light from TV or alarm clock can interfere with melatonin levels and interfere with the body’s natural sleep pattern which can make it challenging to get to sleep or stay asleep.
Types of sleeping disorders
Those suffering from sleep disorders have poor memory and focus and can be a hazard to themselves and others.
The quality of sleep you obtain is more important than quantity. Getting five hours of uninterrupted sleep is much more beneficial than eight hours of interrupted sleep. Having a goodnight’s sleep is directly related to how we feel and perform during the day.
The following are some common sleep disturbances that can affect sleep:
As you now have learned sleep plays an important role in preparing the brain and body for an alert and productive tomorrow.
Having a bedtime routine is just as important and effective as having your day time routine. Going to bed at the same time every night and slowly getting your mind and body ready for bed is essential for restful sleep.
Everyone’s sleep requirement varies and is important to find out how many hours of sleep works for you. A good way to know if you are getting the right amount and quality of sleep is if you find it difficult to wake up in the morning than chances are you’re not sleeping well throughout the night. Keeping a sleep log for a few weeks can help you get a more accurate idea of how many hours work for you.
Diet plays affects the quality of sleep; have your last meal about 2-3 hours before bed and stay away from fried and heavy meals. If you’re hungry close to bed time, choose a night-time snack that is high in complex carbohydrates along with a small amount of tryptophan containing protein to help relax your brain. Good sources are oatmeal, peanut butter, sesame seeds, turkey, legumes and soy. These foods can help aid in proper restful sleep. Also, watch your water consumption. Too much liquid before bed can lead to midnight trips to the bathroom.
Exercising at least 3 x a week for 30 min or more can help with stress and provide a better nights rest. Exercise not only uses energy it creates energy so exercising close to your bedtime should be avoided as it may be too stimulating.
Following a good night’s sleep, you feel more alert, energetic, happier, and better able to tackle any tasks during the day.
There are a many types of treatment for sleeping disorders such as over the counter medication, and alternative treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture or physical therapies make sure you choose the right one for you.
Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements and herbs. Commonly used herbs that promote well-being, that are naturally relaxing and calming are valerian root, passion-flower, chamomile, lemon balm and kava kava. Supplements that may help promote a restful sleep are magnesium, GABA, and melatonin.
[box type="important"]For any treatment to be affective it should also be combined with regular exercise, appropriate lifestyle and diet changes. It’s important to always consult you doctor if having difficulty sleeping as it may be due to an underlying health condition.[/box]