Friday, August 17, 2012

Sleep! Can't Live Without It

Sleep like a baby
Photo credit:
We live in a fast-paced world, filled with technology that consumes us and projects that drive us. Our desire to get the most out of every day pushes us to compromise on a very important aspect of health—sleep.

Thinking you can get by on a few hours of sleep, you push ahead and grab the coffee or energy drink to prop yourself up. It becomes such an ingrained pattern, you fool yourself into thinking you can do this. Who needs sleep?

Stop!!! Adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don't get enough, you set yourself up for an unhealthy future.
"Animal studies suggest that sleep is as vital as food for survival. Rats, for example, normally live 2–3 years, but they live only 5 weeks if they are deprived of REM sleep and only 2–3 weeks if they are deprived of all sleep stages..."Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, National Institutes of Health 
Slow down the rat race and get the right amount of sleep. Adults need from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, 8.5 being the average. Those times can vary throughout your life. Pay attention to your body and you will learn what your sleep need is.

I need closer to 9 hours of sleep a night. I clearly suffer when I don't get it. My brain is not as sharp and my physical body starts dragging in the afternoon.

Importance of Melatonin
The key to good sleep is melatonin. When it gets dark your body produces melatonin. Hmmmm... might all those lights we stare at (like the light from this laptop screen) affect our melatonin and thus our sleep? After all melatonin is
  • A powerful anitoxidant and cancer fighter 
  • Key to the production of all the other hormones
  • Maintaining your body's 24-hour clock 
If you're skimping on sleep... think again.

A word about cheating. If you think you can pop a melatonin pill and all will be well. Studies are inconclusive. Get into a healthy sleep habit by minimizing your exposure to light at night and plan for 8.5 hours of sleep. You will be amazed at how you feel once you get enough sleep.

Here is a guideline for sleep requirements:
Age                                   Average hours/day
Newborn                            up to 18 hours
1–12 months                         14–18 hours
1–3 years                              12–15 hours
3–5 years                              11–13 hours
5–12 years                              9–11 hours
Adolescents                            9–10 hours
Adults, including elderly             7–8 hours
Pregnant women                       8(+) hours   Source: Wikipedia

Women (and men) with hormone issues (prostate, menopause, infertility), what are your sleep patterns like?


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