Sometimes when we humans are told so often that something is so important we have to do it, but we don’t do it and we don’t see any immediate emergency as a result, we figure we can ignore all the warnings that we keep hearing about not doing it being so bad for us.
We think that applies to how many of us continue to ignore the calls to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. We’re too busy… we like shows that are on TV late at night… whatever… we have better things to do than sleep, right?
We did an article not too long ago that offered a great analogy for why it’s important to get “enough sleep”… nobody would put a load of clothes in their washing machine and decide to take the clothes out before the machine completed all the cycles, because the clothes wouldn’t “be done”….and that analogy pointed out that our bodies have a lot of things to do while we sleep… a lot of processes to go through and if you don’t get enough sleep it’s like taking the clothes out before the rinse cyle… they’re not done, and if you cut your sleep short, your body can’t complete all the things it needs to do, and eventually it will create problems. Ahh, but that’s an “eventual problem”, not a right now problem. Maybe not.
We just saw another analogy in an article on the importance of sleep and the technical stuff your body does during sleep. It made the point that if you were finally cleaning out your garage and throwing out things that clearly weren’t needed any longer, it would all be good. But….what if one of your helpers got carried away and just threw everything out… even tools you still would need, or boxes of tax info you stored in the garage, etc. I think you get the picture… cleaning things out is a good idea as long as you “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak.
Well, it turns out that some of the work your body does during sleep is to throw out the information no longer needed… but if you constantly cut short your sleep cycle, and that system gets behind in the decluttering process the brain does during sleep, it will ramp up to “detrimental levels” to try to “catch up” in the reduced time it has to get that done (reduced by you cutting short the amount of time you sleep on a regular basis)and it starts throwing out information it shouldn’t throw out.
As a result of that you will notice that your memory, your ability to stay focused, and your decision-making skills aren’t what they used to be.
You might also find it harder to learn new things, or tasks, and your creativity may not be what it used to be.
Over a prolonged period of time this unregulated destruction from chronic sleep deficit has been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases.
Besides regularly throwing out information not needed any longer, while you sleep all these processes also go on:
¨ Your cells work to repair themselves
¨ Hormones are released
¨ Tissue growth takes place
¨ Cells make proteins required for proper structure and function
¨ Nerve cells in the brain are refreshed/cleaned out — the decluttering process we just discussed.
Also, long term sleep deprivation can have many other negative effects, including:
¨ Heart Attack
¨ A Weakened Immune System
If you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep, here are a few tips that might help:
¨ No caffeine after dinner… that means no coffee, soda pops like Coke etc, and also cigarettes — nicotine is a stimulant like caffeine
¨ Limit exposure to bright lights and to blue lights from computer screens, cell phones, etc. Keeping bright lights on and watching TV screens, computer screens etc can actually confuse your body as to when it’s time to sleep.
To help your body get into or back to a healthy sleep-wake cycle it’s suggested you:
¨ Turn off electronic devices about two hours before you plan to go to bed.
¨ Get outside some time during the daylight hours and even after dark
¨ Allow natural light into your home during the daytime
¨ Limit exposure to light in the evening use soft lighting from lamps instead of bright overhead lights, for instance.
¨ Make yourself comfortable where you are going to sleep… make sure your bed, and pillow are comfortable and that your pajamas are comfortable or if you are more comfortable sleeping in the nude, do that. Then set your thermostat … Sleep experts say it should be set between 60 to 70 degrees. We’ve seen some experts say not over 69 degrees.
¨ Establish a sleep routine. When you establish a routine for your bedtime, your body learns to recognize it as a sort of signal that it’s going to be sleep time soon. So establishing a routine can help to overcome difficulties in getting to sleep and staying asleep. Try to go to bed at about the same time every night, and to wake up at about the same time every morning. Some people find it helpful to take a warm bath or shower before going to bed or reading a book (with soft light only) to establish their bedtime sleep-promoting routine.
A lot of people have told us over the years that drinking Willard’s Water before bed helps them sleep… some people say it gives them so much energy they never drink it before bed, but they have found they sleep better since they began drinking WW routinely during the day. A lot of people say they’ve noticed they sleep better once they make it a routine part of their day and they’ve never tried drinking it before bed, and also never made a point not to drink it before bed.
Other helpful natural sleep aids include taking Valerian Root supplements, or other herbal supplements or magnesium and calcium, or drinking warm milk or chamomile tea before bed. Whatever it takes to get into a routine of 7 to 9 hours sleep nightly seems worth it when you know what depriving your body of it can do.