When you sleep, many things happen that we are not aware of, your body adjusts itself and keeps it healthy repairing the damage from the day.
Sleep floods your veins with age-defying human growth hormone. Sleep raises an army of T cells and sends them into battle against colds and infection. Sleep resets the appetite controls that tell you to not hit the turn signal when you pass a Fast Food Joint.
It stabilizes your waking brain, makes you more alert, and allows you to process information faster. It helps you remember things and consolidate those memories, you won’t get that from a Red Bull.
So then why are we engaged in a society-wide experiment in sleep deprivation? Average nightly sleep time during the workweek in the United States is down nearly 20 minutes in the last decade, to 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Men ages 30 to 44 are the worst offenders: Thirty percent of them say they log less than 6 hours of sleep at night, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The price you pay for this sleep deficit is more than just lost productivity — your health can suffer too. So, wake up! It’s time to shed some light on this dark territory.
I am healthy and I don’t need that much sleep – False
True, Napoleon slept 4 to 5 hours a night, and Thomas Edison got by on 4. But world domination and the light bulb might have been mere warm ups had these guys slept more.
Sleep scientists estimate that only 10 percent of adults are hardwired to need appreciably less (or more) sleep than the recommended 7 to 8 hours.
And by cheating on sleep, you’re limping through life with the cranial equivalent of a torn calf muscle. Scarier still, people who are sleep deprived often don’t even know they’ve turned into zombies.
After dividing 48 volunteers into four sleep regimens — 8, 6, 4, and zero hours a night (a.k.a. torture).
University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the 6-hours-a-night group fared as poorly on measures of alertness and memory after 2 weeks as the no-sleep crew did after 24 hours.
But participants in the 6-hour group didn’t feel very sleepy even when they were performing at their worst.
Accumulating a sleep deficit also leads to microsleeps while you’re awake. Your brain becomes unstable and will go off-line for half a second. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more frequent and longer the lapses.
If you didn’t sleep 7 or 8 hours every night this past week, go to bed this weekend at your regular weekday time, but don’t set your alarm clock.
Did you rise on Saturday and Sunday at the same time you would have on, say, a Tuesday? Then you may be one of those few people who can sleep less yet remain healthy.
The rest of us mere mortals can begin to repay our sleep debt by dozing 10 hours a night on weekends and then sticking to 7 to 8 hours during the week.
Your brain will use this strategy whenever you accumulate a sleep debt. Otherwise, you want to stay consistent with your sleeping.
Raising the pillow end of your bed by a few inches can help prevent that tissue from blocking your throat. Snoring could also be waking you in the middle of the night, and one major cause is nasal obstruction.
Wash out mucus and irritants by mixing ¼ teaspoon of table salt in 2 cups of warm water and flushing your nose twice a day using a medical or bulb syringe.
Japanese researchers found that people with nasal obstruction were twice as likely to experience daytime fatigue as people with clear passageways. For video instruction on the technique, visit mayoclinic.com and search “nasal irrigation.”
If the peeing persists around the clock, schedule a prostate exam and have your blood-sugar level checked by your doctor after an overnight fast.
The post-lunch crash can’t be avoided — False
Many Europeans scarf down a carb-loaded lunch and then shut down from 1 to 4 in the afternoon. But with unemployment soaring, let’s assume a 2-hour nap won’t play well at the office.
If you find yourself entering what amounts to a food coma after lunch, you’re probably eating too many carbohydrates in the morning. And what you’re not getting enough of is making it worse.
A post lunch crash is a telltale sign of poor nighttime sleep, as is dozing in meetings, theater performances, or similar environments.
Not sure if you’re experiencing a modest dip or a true crash?
Take a minute or two to fill out the Epworth Sleepiness Scale This online questionnaire is the same one sleep docs use on their new patients.
Along with improving your nightly sleep pattern, eat three small meals spaced 2 hours apart in the morning. Try a protein shake at 7 a. m., two eggs and a small cup of oatmeal at 9, and an apple and a handful of almonds at 11.
You’ll consume fewer carbohydrates, and you won’t be as likely to overeat at lunchtime. In fact, a salad with grilled chicken and avocado on top should be enough to keep your mind focused and your head off the desk all afternoon.
Waking up at 4 a. m. means I’m an early riser — False
More likely, you — along with 60 million other Americans — have insomnia, an inability to fall or stay asleep. Insomniacs wake at the slightest disturbance and feel un-refreshed in the morning. Insufficient sleep exposes the sufferer to a boatload of health problems.
In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, researchers found insomniacs were more than twice as likely as normal sleepers to call in sick for long periods.
Let’s assume that you’ve already cut back on caffeine. What you want to do is make your sleep more efficient. By going to bed an hour or so later, those gaps won’t be as long as or frequent. Soon enough, you should be waking up after the birds, not before them.
Workout before bed helps me fall asleep — False
Regular exercise is one of the best sleep-promoting remedies but working out late at night risks leaving you wide-eyed in bed. It’s easiest to fall asleep when your internal body temperature goes quickly from very warm to very cold. After exercise, that cooling process takes 4 to 6 hours.”
It’s better to take a hot bath or sauna session close to bedtime. Anything that raises core body temperature will help get you started on sleep. The cooldown period into the sleep zone following a bath takes just 2 hours — half that of an exercise session.
Snooze strategy: Work out — but do it first thing in the morning for all-day energy and a quick drift into deep, restful sleep. Studies show that exercise improves sleep as effectively as a class of sleeping pills that includes Restoril and Halcion.
Alcohol helps me sleep at night — False
Only if you equate a good night’s sleep with passing out drunk on your couch. Alcohol messes with the normal sleep cycle, especially the back end of the cycle. Four hours into sleep, alcohol wears off and leaves you in an excitable state.
You’ll sleep lighter, wake more easily, and be hung over when you do wake. After three nights of intoxicated slumber, even the initial knockout punch begins to wane.
Another drawback for Alcohol, using a six pack as a sleep aid. Being a muscle relaxant as well as sedative, alcohol can even create sleep apnea symptoms in snorers who don’t otherwise have the condition.
Unfortunately, liquor is a go-to therapy for many sleep deprived people. It is often used as over-the-counter sleeping pills and more often than prescription sleep meds.
Be consistent with your overall schedule and you won’t need booze. You have an internal clock in your brain. To set this clock, eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at exactly the same time every day for a week. See the changes…you will sleep like a baby.