In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for He grants sleep to those He loves. Psalm 127:2
SLEEP – The final discipline in PATTERNS of self-care.
Most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep per night but get much less. It’s no wonder why the number one complaint people feel stressed about is feeling exhausted. The CDC estimates that one in three adults suffer from sleep deprivation.
Balance is critical when it comes to getting the right amount of sleep. Sleep is an important factor in good mental health, which is important to function well at work and within relationships. Insomnia, the problem of not getting enough sleep can dramatically impact emotions. Stress, worry, depression and anxiety can interfere with sleep. Insomnia is a strong factor in depression as is too much sleep.
Researchers have found that people with insomnia struggle with managing their emotions as the amygdala (a cluster of neurons in the temporal lobe) is significantly more active than those of people who do not struggle with insomnia. When the amygdala is firing, emotions flood the brain and it therefore has difficulty slowing the information down and allow the person to relax. The brain’s ability to process negative emotions is believed to be hampered in those struggling with insomnia.
Sleep deprivation is a serious issue and has been used during war times to obtain secrets from the enemy. Sleep deprivation causes deficiencies in impulse control and perception. A person will die of a lack of sleep before they will die from a lack of food. Driving drowsy has been found to be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Many people struggle with sleep issues because they sleep too much or their sleep patterns are irregular. The body has an internal clock designed to help with sleep. Struggling with anxiety and/or depression can cause a person to feel like they need to sleep more. So, they nap during the day and aren’t involved in much physical activity. This causes a loop to form because they experience difficulty sleeping at normal times because the body hasn’t gotten rid of the energy needed.
The nap therefore becomes a hindrance to good sleeping habits. If this is you, cut out the naps for a week and instead go on a walk no matter how you feel. Keep yourself active during the day and see if you don’t find it easier to sleep at night. If you struggle with getting enough sleep, take a look at the following list for ideas to improve your sleep hygiene habits.
Cut caffeine intake and avoid drinking caffeine during the afternoon and on an empty stomach.
Be sure to eat balanced meals throughout the day at regular times.
Avoid sugar and other simple carbohydrates.
Don’t try too hard to go to sleep. You will only be frustrated and work yourself into an anxious state of mind. Rather tell yourself, “It’s okay if I get just a few hours of sleep tonight. I will sleep better the next night.” This change in expectation will free you up enough to relax and get to sleep. The harder you try to go to sleep, the harder it will be to induce sleep.
Don’t use your bed for watching television, reading or checking any electronics. Your body gets messages from behaviors and can confuse the brain. If you can’t sleep, get up and go to another room.
Avoid drinking large quantities of liquid at night. Drinking a lot lowers the sleep threshold because you will be prone to wake up to urinate.
Avoid bright light for at least a few hours before going to sleep. Don’t work on the computer into the late evening.
Do all your planning for the next day before you get into bed. If you think of something you need to remember, get up and write it down.
Postpone thinking or worrying about anything until the next day. Keep a pad next to your bed. Write down thoughts and let them sit until the morning. Hash your day out with God and allow Him to prioritize those pesky things.
Avoid daytime napping. Naps steal sleep from the nighttime.
Eat a light snack with complex carbohydrates before bed (such as foods rich in L-tryptophan).
Avoid eating anything with sugar or salt before bed.
Avoid protein snacks at night; protein blocks the synthesis of serotonin and promotes alertness.
Exercise 3 to 6 hours before going to bed. A brisk walk before or after dinner is perfect.
If noise bothers you, use earplugs or a white-noise machine.
If you are troubled by chronic insomnia, try the sleep-scheduling technique.
Try relaxation exercises to help go to sleep or get back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
Check out these random and fun facts about sleep:
Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult.
Caffeine has been called the most popular drug in the world. All over the world people consume caffeine on a daily basis in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks, and some drugs.
In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. Get what’s right for your body.
We naturally feel tired at two different times of the day: about 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM. It is this natural dip in alertness that is primarily responsible for the post-lunch dip.
Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.
When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers,” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night.
There are individual differences in the need to nap. Some adults and children need to nap. However, the majority of teenagers probably nap in the afternoon because they are not sleeping enough at night.
Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis.
Scientists still don’t know — and probably never will — if all animals dream during REM sleep, as humans do. It sure seems like dogs do.
People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation.
Pain tolerance is reduced by sleep deprivation.
Sleeping less than 7 hours a night can reduce your life expectancy.
It’s impossible to sneeze while sleeping.
The ability of the brain to tell what’s important from what’s not is compromised by lack of sleep.
Memories take hold better during sleep.
You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV.
Drinking caffeine in the evening delays our brains release of melatonin and can interrupt our circadian rhythm by as much as 40 minutes.
Depression can cause you to dream 3-4 times more than normally.
The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
People who procrastinate are reported to more likely having insomnia.
Driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Sleep is a very important part of self-care. You can actually go without food longer than you can go without sleep. Sleep resets the brain, provides closure on events in the day and prepares you to effectively handle what comes your way the next day.