Sleep is an essential and universal function for humans. We spend about 1/3rd of our lives sleeping as it is vital to our survival. Sleep is now considered one of the three basic pillars of health together with diet and exercise. It is when we sleep that the body heals and repairs itself. During the depths of the sleep state that we detach from the outside world, permitting our bodies the divine rejuvenation and restoration of chemical and hormonal balance required for health and vitality. It is during the sleep cycle that the brain forges new thought connections and helps memory retention. Our body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best.
One of the major problems plaguing Americans today is sleep deprivation. Our society places much emphasis on consumerism and productivity. This vicious cycle of work all day and play all night along with the invention of the light bulb has hijacked the hours historically devoted to sleep. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, more than one-quarter of the U.S. population reports not getting enough sleep from time to time. According to a recent article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, poor sleep quality has a negative impact in different areas related to physical health such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, weight gain, and raises the risk of accidental injury.
While we may yell “YOLO” and chug massive amounts of caffeinated drinks for stamina, our physical, emotional, and mental health is adversely impacted. No longer can we afford to ignore the internal biological and psychological alarm systems alerting us to STOP and REST. Research identifies a strong correlation between sleep and cognitive ability, purporting that our brains do not function optimally when we are void of quality time to rest. Sleep deprivation impacts memory, learning, planning, reasoning, performance, and mood. In addition to this, poor sleep quality is also related to negative psychological consequences such as anxiety and depression, aggression, altered cognitive functioning, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among others (Kaufmann, Susukida, and Depp, 2017). Lack of sleep can trigger mood dysregulation, hallucinations, and mania for those suffering with Bipolar disorder.
Continued loss of sleep leads to sleep debt. Sleep debts according to the Centers for Disease Control is not getting adequate sleep over a series of days causes sleep debt to progressively build day by day. Every day that you neglect prioritizing sleep over some activity, you build a deficit that over time significantly impacts both your being and doing. According to a study from 2016Trusted Source it takes four days to fully recover from one hour of lost sleep.
Other psychological risks include: [clink the hyperlinks for more information]
There are 5 states of sleep:
According to National Sleep Foundation, Americans need about 7.1 hours of sleep per night to feel good, but 73 percent of us fall short of that goal on a regular basis. Making some small lifestyle adjustments often will get you back on track with good sleep habits and prevent sleep disorders and other health issues. Below are some suggested ways to improve your sleep routing:
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime
Create a bedtime routine of quiet, non-electronic activities before bedtime
Don’t eat close to the time you usually go to sleep
Exercise, but at least three hours before bedtime
Get exposed to natural light during the day
Review your sleep environment
Try to go to sleep at the same time each night (Circadian Rhythm)
Sticking to bedtime routines even on weekends and holidays
End the use of all electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime
Creating a healthy bedtime ritual to include baths, reading, meditation, and other calming/self-soothing activities.
Education is key in building or rebuilding healthy routines. Choose one or more of the above to incorporate into your routine, and make the commitment to prioritize your wellness.
Healthline Media. (2021, October 15). 10 reasons why good sleep is important. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important
Centers for Disease Control. (2021, October 15). Sleep and sleep disorders. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html
Clement-Carbonell, V.; Portilla-Tamarit, I.; Rubio-Aparicio, M.; Madrid-Valero, J.J. (2021). Sleep quality, mental and physical health: A differential relationship. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health,18, 460. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020460
Kaufmann et al. (2017). Sleep Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2017.04.003
The National Sleep Foundation. (2021, October 15). https://www.thensf.org.
Article written by Dr. Sha'Leda A. Mirra, Ph.D., M.S., M.Div, LCSW, CAP
Article publish October 18, 2021, all rights reserved.