Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sleeping . . . ENOUGH

We hear all the time about the importance of getting enough sleep in our lives.  It makes us healthier, happier, and helps us live longer lives. Something that most people don't think about, however, is the fact that we can actually get TOO MUCH sleep as well. Sleep deprivation (too little sleep) and sleep inundation (too much sleep) can affect us in many ways, sabotaging us to our paths of health and happiness.

The symptoms of both problems are quite similar - you're over tired throughout your day, you may have headaches or be irritated, some people even experience weakness and stomach pains.

So, how much is ENOUGH?  That is, believe it or not, relative to the person asking.  Most doctors suggest getting around 6-8 hours a DAY (24 hr period) for adults.  This is including naps. That being said, some people thrive on 5 hours, some 9 - it depends on how your body works.

How do you know if you're getting too much or too little?  Simple.  If you are over tired during the day, look at how much you slept the night before.  If you slept fewer than six hours, chances are you got too little sleep.  If you slept more than 8 or nine hours, you probably got too much.  If you think you got too much, try waking an hour earlier the next day.  If you think you got too little, try going to bed an hour earlier. Adjust your sleeping patterns over the course of a few days to see what works best for you.

Now, some of you are reading this thinking "I don't have time for sleep".  STOP IT. You HAVE to MAKE time for your body and your health.  If you don't think you can do that or don't want to, then you're reading the wrong blog. If you don't think you have time, try scheduling your day.  Go through your typical day and see what you're doing at any given hour or half hour block of time.  Important things such as work (typical work day - 40 hrs a week), family time, church/bible study, college or high school course work are mandatory so should take priority over all else. Once those are blocked, look at what you're doing during other times - watching TV, having a drink with friends, going out dancing . . . These are things that can sabotage our sleep.

Try this for a week - limit yourself to one to two hours of TV a night.  This will give you time to watch one or two shows that you really love.  Feel free to record any others you might want to see and watch them another time. Now, make a conscious decision and set a bed time and a wake up time. Set your alarm!  Next, STICK WITH IT for 7 days.  If you have chosen the right amount of sleep, you will feel better and more well-rested than you have been feeling.

If you are having trouble sleeping, try having a glass of milk (no, it doesn't have to be hot) or herbal tea about an hour before bed. Make sure you get enough water through your day and are exercising at least 15 minutes a day as well.  All these factors will help ensure a good nights' sleep.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Soooo.....I took your advice and I'm doing this. I've been getting myself in bed a little bit earlier and I've been getting myself up a little earlier each day. What I seek to accomplish is to fit my workout in the morning before work. So far, I've succedded in the getting to bed/waking up early. Monday: start working out!! I'll keep you posted on how this goes. LOVE YOU