Thursday, June 14, 2012

To All A Good Night

This is not something we think about when we go to our gym, or our Yoga and Pilates studios, but it is an essential part of achieving and maintaining good health.  It is necessary for attaining peace in the body.  Do you get enough sleep?  Hey! Come back here! Yes, I’m talking to YOU!  Lack of sleep is a big issue in our society, and I feel we need to address it. 

Most sleep studies state that humans need 6 – 10 hours of sleep per 24 hour period to maintain normal mental and physical function.  That averages to 8 hours, but many people do not get their full 8 hours, nor do they have any idea if 8 is the proper number for themselves within that range.  There are a lot of things about sleep and sleep dysfunction that are still a mystery to modern science.  However, we do know that proper sleep helps maintain organ function—like that big organ in your head! I’m talking about your brain, of course.  Lack of sleep is associated with poor memory function, slowed reaction time, anxiety, irritability, and a myriad of other mental issues.  Sleep also helps regulate your endocrine system which controls blood sugar, blood pressure, hormone levels, and your ability to maintain a healthy weight.  That’s right!  Long term sleep deprivation plays a major role in making you overweight and sick!  There, I said it.

Most of us think we can “get by” on 5 or 6 hours nightly, but that’s just it: getting by is not good enough.  It undermines our health and wellbeing.  Be well instead.  The occasional short sleep cycle probably won’t have a long term effect on your health, however 1 or 2 hours skipped day after day can build up over time to create long term, chronic health problems.  Think of your sleep needs like a cell phone battery.  If you leave it on the charger until it is totally full, it lasts longer.  If you pull it off the charger before the battery is fully recharged, yes, you can use the phone, but over time the battery loses its ability to hold a charge, and then your phone dies more often.

I think far too many people disregard the importance of being fully rested.  I see this problem day after day with my students who are too tired to function, but unwilling to see lack of sleep as a real issue because they can “get by” on what they’re getting.  Figure out what you need to fit that extra hour of sleep into your schedule.  The improved waking function you experience will be worth the extra time you give.  Would you like to have inner peace?  Excellent!  I suggest you sleep on it.  Sweet dreams.

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