I was recently talking about sleep (or lack thereof) on the Butterfly Balance Facebook page and from the discussion it sounded like I'm definitely not the only one who's dealing with not getting enough sleep.
What is it about sleep that makes it seem almost optional? I know when I'm overwhelmed and have too much to do, it seems easiest to cut sleep out; something else always seems "more important" and I can always "make it up" later. Unfortunately, sleep doesn't really work like that. And when we let ourself get way too tired, we often turn to things like caffeine and/or sugar to "wake us up" which then have other detrimental effects on our health, on top of the sleep deprivation.
I have even heard that people who drive when very tired have a level of impairment not unlike driving after drinking!
During this past week, my schedule was so full that if I got 6 hours of sleep a night, it was a lot. By Friday I was nearly delirious, I was so sleep deprived. So it was interesting and timely to see this link to a Bastyr University natural medicine blog post called "What is so important about sleep?"
In this article they mention that adults should have 7-9 hours of sleep a night. 7 hours is about the maximum that I get, and I'm sure I could use more. Also from the article are these benefits of sleep and risk of not enough sleep:
"Some negative outcomes of inadequate sleep include:
- Increased level of systemic inflammation, which can be a predisposing factor in the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
- Increased overall pain response.
- Decreased immune response to illnesses such as the common cold.
- Decreased circulating melatonin, which has been found to have anti-rheumatic and anti-autoimmune activity and thus may help in conditions such as multiple sclerosis and scleroderma
Some benefits of adequate sleep quantity and quality include:
- Increased immune function.
- Increased cognitive function.
- Increased wound healing."
Sleep is such a vital component to good health. Would you cut out eating because you needed more time in your day? Or show up at work an hour or two late for work because you needed more time in your day? So why is it okay to take an extra hour or two away from sleep?
For me, the answer is to reevaluate the things I schedule. I just can't say "yes" to everything. I know I've hit a state of overwhelm when even fun things I love to do feel like an obligation. There really are only so many hours in a day!
Did you know that sleep deprivation has actually been used as a form of torture? I found this article about sleep deprivation as torture, that said in part:
"Deprivation of sleep can raise many physical and mental inabilities in a human body. It also considered as a most cruel torture, termed as sleep deprivation torture. This is one of the most effective and brutal way of torture, used on victims, to make them mentally and physically weak. In this way, they easily accept their crime. In sleep deprivation torture, victims are not allowed to sleep for many days, at a time. And, finally when they are permitted to sleep, then disrupt their sleep many times and then interrogate them. Questions are asked to them without having sleep for many hours.
In sleep deprivation torture, the victim who is tortured, feels like going to die. Legs become unsteady and request only for one thing; to sleep. The one, who has experienced the sleep deprivation torture, cannot assume even hunger and thirst, to compare with it. Sleep deprivation is not just a complaint of few people, suffering from it. It is serious problem, which can cause severe health complications and conditions, for human body. Sleep deprivation torture is a traditional way of torture someone, but nowadays, it is used as a treatment for mental sickness and depressions of various types.
This problem is now becoming common in nowadays society. Due to toxics and pollution, the problem of sleep deprivation is increasing rapidly. Sleep deprivation is so stressful condition and it could be deadly if increases with the time. It can make a person disoriented and can mix up the mind so that a person suffering from sleep deprivation, feels like passing through a torture. Due to lack of sleep or sleep deprivation, a person may face irritation, weakness of vision, garbled speech, and lack of memory, confusion, hallucination, nausea and ultimately death."
I can actually do a workup using Health Kinesiology that can determine your body's personalized need for sleep, from how many hours to what time you should be in bed for the most restorative, healing sleep.
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, what steps can you take to fix that? Be kind to yourself by putting yourself first!