Importance of Sleep


Jan 13, 2019

 by Dan Dirkx
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(Please tell me that you sang that to the tune of Baby Got Back!)

Where does the term sleeping like a baby come from? If you've ever tried to get a baby to sleep through the night, you know what I mean!

Babies sleep for a few hours at a time. Toddlers fight sleep with everything they have. (Remember complaining about naps as a little kid - why did we do that!?!?) Teens actually have one thing figured out - sleeping. (And parents whine when their kids sleep all day long...what are we doing?!?!)

Sleep is a good indicator of our overall health and mental well-being. We often know that sleep is important, but yet it's the first thing we sacrifice - we get too busy and need to get things done so we skimp on our sleep.

So, sleep is a complicated thing. Getting enough of it and getting the right kind of sleep are complicated matters.

First, let's talk about how much sleep we should be getting.

Studies vary on the subject - anywhere from 7 to 10 hours is recommended depending on who you talk to. Here's the kicker - it probably varies some amount from person to person. So how do you go about finding what works best for you?

Experiment with your sleep. Try a week of getting 7 hours. Then a week of 9 hours. Try a week of 8 hours and finally a week of 10 hours. Journal how you feel each morning and throughout the day. The only way to know what is working is to keep track of it all.

Now, WHY we need to be getting so much sleep.

If you are exhausted, you are probably also irritable and crabby - a good night's sleep can help boost your mood.

Getting enough sleep could help you maintain your weight - and just the opposite is true also. Not getting enough sleep could contribute to weight gain. When you are tired, you have less energy to exercise (funny how working out makes you LESS tired overall), but you also then have less will power and control to make healthier food choices throughout the day. Think about doing a great job all day and then right before bed binging on everything in site (been there - done that!)

Getting a good night's sleep helps you think clearer and can improve your memory. You'll be more alert and able to make better decisions.

Good sleep may even help boost your immunity. (More research is still needed on the subject though.)

And finally, your sex life may suffer if you are "just too tired" to be intimate with your partner at night. That alone could be reason enough to get better sleep!

And finally, how do we get the RIGHT kind of sleep each night?

Be sure your bedroom is a comfortable place for sleeping - cool, dark, and quiet. You can use a fan (which may also double as some white noise) to cool your space. You can also get room darkening blinds to help keep your space conducive to sleep.

Avoid caffeine! Depending on how much caffeine you drink each day or how much caffeine affects you will determine your daily cut off time. For some people, no caffeine after noon is a good choice, for others 4-6 hours before bed is enough.

Keep pets off the bed. This one may be hard, but if you are already sleeping with a partner, an extra body on the bed can be even more disturbing to your sleep. A pet can take up space, move around all night, and depending on the size of the pet - take up a lot of space on the bed.

Avoid electronic devices. The bright screen can mess with your circadian rhythm. Try reading an actual paper book instead of playing on a device at least an hour before bed.

Go ahead - sing it with me (you know you want to!) I like to sleep and I cannot lie!