The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Everybody knows or realizes that sleep is important in our lives.  Yet, we undervalue it for some reason, & everybody likes to cut into their sleep schedule to try & “make time” for the things that remain on their to-do list from day-to-day.  Recently, I read an all-informative novel called the Sleep Revolution. In it, Ariana Huffington makes some very valid points about sleep, backed up by credible statistics.  Let’s just say, it encouraged me to get my sleep act together!

On lack of sleep, here’s some alarming news; there is a serious increased risk of the following diseases:  heart attack, stroke, diabetes, & obesity. “People who get six hours of sleep per night are 23 percent more likely to be overweight” (Huffington, 27).  People always want to blame dieting as the main issue for weight gain, but as evidenced here, not getting enough sleep is a contributing factor as well. Even when we think we are being productive by cutting into regular sleep hours, it eventually adds up in some negative way or another.

Getting adequate rest/sleep is an issue our society faces from the moment an individual enters the world. As I prepare for the almost certain sleepless nights of having & caring for a newborn, I found the following quite interesting to contemplate:  “Infants with poor sleep grow into toddlers with poor sleep. Lack of sleep impairs a child’s ability to learn, their emotional well-being (mood swings, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity & other behavioral problems.)” (Huffington, 171) As a former educator, I put a lot of emphasis on the process of learning, so it only stands to reason that I would look seriously at anything that could inhibit my child from learning at a normal rate. As a mom, I will also be highly concerned with the emotional state of my child, & thus, bedtime will become an enforced habit in my home.

Another major side effect of not getting enough sleep can catch up with one later in life. There is a constant battle to retain mental capacity in old age nowadays. “Lack of sleep over time can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells– yet another debunking of the myth that sleep debt can be made up. …Researchers found that lack of sleep in older adults increased the pace of brain-ventricle enlargement & decreased cognitive performance, the very markers of brain aging associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s.” (Huffington, 105). This idea of sleep debt is very important too; without a regular sleep schedule (including the prescribed amount of sleep per night based on your age and/or built-in naps) one can easily fall into serious sleep debt. Unlike financial debt, however, it can never be paid back or made up for; the brain needs its time to wind down & regenerate or recharge each night. Sleep is an invaluable component of personal health & fitness!

-Katie

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