So, what is “adequate” when it comes to sleep? Most people require 7-9 hours/night, but if you are doing athletic training at higher volumes, going through a “stressful” emotional time or fighting an infection you may need up to 10 hours.
“Sleep debt” is a term that is used to refer to the cumulative effect of sleep deprivation over time. Think of it as a snowball effect…if you continuously get an hour less sleep than you need, the negative effects will increase exponentially. So, a sleepless night here and there, you can probably handle…but do this night after night and you will notice an effect on your health in terms of mood, strength, energy and productivity.
Not only the number of hours, but the timing and the quality are also important.
For better sleep try getting to bed at around the same time and getting up at the same time every day. The best times would be going to sleep between 9-11pm and getting up between 6-8am. You should feel refreshed and ready to start your day (without hitting the “snooze button” over and over or begging for “just 5 more minutes”). Make sure your room is completely dark, get rid of all electronics in your bedroom and keep the temperature of the room a bit cooler for better quality sleep. If other things are interrupting your sleep, it may be good to figure out the root cause and get it sorted out….because you NEED your sleep! If you have trouble falling asleep try a bath with calming lavender essential oil, meditation every evening, deep breathing exercises, Try lemonbalm, skullcap or rose tea (small cup around 30-60 minutes before bed). It is also beneficial to stop using any electronic devices an hour before bed.
If you are waking in the night, it may be due to hormonal imbalances or anxiety. If you do get up, try not to turn on too many lights as this decreases melatonin (sleep cycle hormone). If you have tried breathing exercises, tapes, teas or getting up for a bit and doing something and you still are feeling sleep deprived then it is definitely time to get to the bottom of this. Resolving imbalances through acupuncture, homeopathic remedies and supplements have been shown to help with insomnia of all kinds as the root cause is treated.
What happens when you sleep? Sleep stimulates the release of Growth Hormone, without which muscle repair and building cannot occur properly. It also stimulates bone building and fat burning. Your adrenal glands also build and release hormones with adequate sleep(these are responsible for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone production as well as adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones). Our nervous systems also also process our experiences, emotions, thoughts and energies during sleep. Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it!?
Try committing to getting more sleep than you think you need or than you have been getting for 3 weeks and see how you feel. If you need help with it, talk to your naturopathic physician about it.
Just imagine waking feeling refreshed and ready for the new day after a good night’s sleep….plus, it gives you more hours to dream !