Sleep? There’s A Nap For That

September 06, 2015 0 Comments

It’s crazy. We all need it, we all want it, we feel better for it, but we all do well to not allow ourselves to get enough.

It is a wonder we do this, given that sleep is one of THE most important aspects that can influence your health.

How is that?

Well, your circadian cycle (sleep-wake-cycle) is also connected to your metabolic, adrenal and sexual hormone systems (aka: appetite, insulin levels, energy systems, thyroid function, stress response, and brain function). Insufficient sleep, be that in quantity or quality, can disrupt any or all of these body processes, which may cause various health problems.

If you’re still not convinced, let me remind you, or rather inform you, of how protective sleep is for the body:

Sleep is integral for:

 

  • Energy production
  • Brain function
  • Immune system function
  • Good mood
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Weight management


Insufficient sleep has been shown to:

 

  • Promote fatigue
  • Reduce exercise performance and capacity
  • Increase the risk of weight gain
  • Increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increase the risk of diabetes
  • Increases the risk of cancer


Source: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/spotlight/fact-sheet/sleep-disorders-insufficient-sleep-improving-health-through-research

So what’s stopping you from getting enough good quality sleep? I bet you’re talking to your screen with the answer. ‘Uh you have no idea how busy my job is!’ ‘Because I have 6 assignments due across the next week!’ ‘The Bachelor is on!’ My Mum would be saying, ‘Because I have 7 kids and a bazillion baskets of washing!’ All of these seem justifiable, right?

In any case, sleep deprivation is a very fine line, and once you cross it, it can cascade into a tricky cycle of decreased productivity, and even less sleep.

For example, you haven’t made your deadlines (be that a quote at work, the piles of washing at home, or the assignment due), so you stay up late to get it done, allowing yourself less 3hrs sleep. Now that you are sleep deprived, you have less energy, are more easily distracted, and can’t seem to get it together enough to complete the tasks of the day. You might skip the gym, and feel like you need another extra shot cappuccino to see you through the day. Due to this fatigue you find you’re behind in your work, so you stay up late – again. This becomes the groove of your week, until finally you have the chance to sleep in on the weekend. Sound familiar?

I can site that example so easily because I am a shocker for it! I never prioritise sleep, rather allow myself to have whatever is left over between the time I get into bed, and the hour my alarm goes off the next day.

But here’s a revolutionary idea (or rather, simple): set the amount of time you are going to sleep for (what you know is good for your body to be well rested and recuperated), and prioritise all your other commitments around that. Work backwards and commit to it.

Identify the hours you wish to sleep for: 8 are ideal for me
Consider the time you need to get up the next day: 6am
Clock back 8hrs to get the time you need to be asleep by: 10pm
Then work your daily tasks, evening activities and downtime into fitting this schedule so that you are tucked up in bed by this time.

It’s certainly easier said than done. Even since first considering this, I’ve failed 3/5 days because, well, life happens. And I think that is ok! My goal will be to not let this become another stress for me (“Oh my gosh its 10:10pm and I’m supposed to be asleep!). Each day I plan with strong intention to be in bed, ready for sleep, by 9.45pm. Some days this will happen, others I know it’s just too important to enjoy the company of a loved one without being time stringent.  As I build this routine, I know my body will thrive from the consistency of a proper night’s rest, and it will become easier and easier to prioritise good rest.

Consider what small changes you can implement to allow your body adequate time to rest, recuperate and recharge overnight, ready to tackle the tasks of the new day with purpose, efficiency and great productivity. Your body is an amazing thing! Don’t shortchange it by neglecting to nourish it with the fuel it needs - including a good night’s sleep. Allow yourself to be renewed. Tomorrow is a new day. Go get ‘em.

 

Image: larsensotelo.tumblr.com






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