Why Lack of Sleep is "A Big Deal"
Can't Sleep? Join My Club.
Can't sleep? I know how you feel. Many times I will be found lurking online well past midnight. I justify this nocturnal behavior by telling myself that this is when I do my writing. Who can write, research, and study with three kids running around all day? And what is the difference really as long as I get up when the kids do?
Well lack of sleep is linked to many health problems, and weight gain. Gasp! Whoa hold on, I may be overweight due to lack of sleep. I need a nap now! This is due to the release of a hormone called Leptin that tells your brain when your tummy is full. The levels of this hormone are not what they could be when your sleep deprived. Next time you over eat, ask yourself: "How much sleep have I had in the last week?"
Lack of sleep is taking away a line of defense your body has against common illnesses, stress, and even cancer. Your body needs seven to eight hours a night to rejuvenate. If you rob your body of this rest, then the big bads are going to find an easier path into your body.
So what can you do to get your sleep schedule back on a healthy track? These are the things that work for me when I remember to do them, or don't willfully stay up despite knowing better.
A Few Helpful Tips:
- Make it a point to exercise, outside at some point before four o'clock. Why outside? Because you need a bit of real sunlight to release some of the good hormones in your body, and perk you up at the right time of the day.
- No caffeine past six o'clock. None. Sorry. If your a soda drinker keep a case of caffeine free for the evening, but an even better choice would be to use this as an opportunity to switch to water.
- Have a bedtime routine, something that gets your brain and body in the mood to shut down. It can be the simple act of taking a shower and changing into your pajamas, or sitting down with a cup of herbal (non-caffeine) tea, but this routine should calm you.
- Turn off the T.V. , computer, and dim the lights. This one is the hardest for me. Even when I do make it to bed I typically have a laptop with me, or the bedroom t.v. on. Aside from the obvious problem of getting lost in a movie or web page for hours, there is the real issue of the bright lights. Your body will start to produce melatonin once it is dim, and dark. Before electricity this was helpful for humans to fall asleep, now things are all out of whack due to bright lights being available at all times.
These things all work for me when I practice them. If all else fails though, or you find it too difficult to do the things that will help you fall asleep naturally, I recommend that you do not take sleeping pills. They can become addictive, and make falling asleep without them harder than before. If you must try something extra try Melatonin. Melatonin is available over the counter and all natural. There are many benefits of Melatonin, and it makes me pleasantly sleepy. I don't need it when I do the things on my list, but sometimes I do take them.
Falling asleep seems like the simplest thing in the world, unless you can't do it. Then suddenly it is quite the big deal. Insomnia is no fun, although sometimes it can be this writers best friend.
Habits Are Hard To Break
Habits are hard to break. Remember this as you are trying to develop a new sleep pattern. Good habits as well as bad habits are hard to break, so the trouble you are going through to break bad health habits will be worth it because you are building new ones that can change your life for the better.
These new good habits, that may take a month or two to build will be as hard to break from as the bad ones.