[highlight]How often do you find yourself feeling completely exhausted, all your energy spent, overwhelmed and stressed out from a long workweek?[/highlight]
The exhaustion and weight of the days taking its toll on you and all you can think about is crawling into bed Friday night, not to see the light of day again until noon the following day. Lying in bed half way through your Saturday, you find yourself wondering “where did I go wrong?”
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
This post is the first in a series of six, which will explore all aspects of sleep and your health. In conjunction with Restonic, we’ll be discussing topics that will help you improve the quality and duration of your sleep, which will affect your quality of life now and of course well into your future.
This post’s focus is simple: to examine the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of sleep. You’ll gain insight and better understanding of the importance of sleep, ensuring you keep front of mind the importance of your body’s “reset” button.
Ready to hack your sleep to a healthier you?
In a recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, “43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they never get a good night’s sleep on weeknights”. And of those surveyed, “60% say they experience a sleep problem every night leaving them feeling tired and sluggish” when they get up in the morning.
Dr. James B Maas, author of Power Sleep, uses an incredible analogy to explain why so many of us are tired all of the time:
“We’re all carrying a sleep-debt – we are carrying a load! Tomorrow morning I’m going to sneak into your bedroom and I’m going to put a knapsack on your back and for every hour you are up I’m going to drop a brick into that knapsack. After 16 hours you’re under a load. Now it takes 1 hour of sleep to get rid of every 2 hours you [spend] awake – this is sleep debt. Every 2 hours you’re up creates this tremendous need for an hour of sleep. So if you don’t sleep 8 hours, you wake up the next morning and you already have bricks in your knapsack before you even start the day and soon you’re going to crash.”
When you sleep, your body replenishes its energy levels lost during the day. Think of sleep as the clean-up crew, organizing, sorting and repairing your mind and body so you’re ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Sleep is a functional state that affects both mental and physical well-being. The longest a person has survived without sleep is a short 11 days. After only 5 days with just an hour less sleep each night, you can expect to feel as though you’re legally intoxicated. If you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, you’re crippling your body’s ability to cope with stress, decreasing both your level of alertness and your brain’s cognitive abilities. People who regularly skimp on their sleep or suffer from insomnia are at risk for a smorgasbord of diseases and autoimmune disorders.
What happens when we sleep?
Well besides the obvious answer, we close our eyes and keep them closed for the evening, there’s a lot more to sleep. In fact there’s a number of stages within the sleep cycle. The five sleep stages are repeated as many as five times during the night. As the night progresses, each cycle lengthens, and REM sleep, during which most dreaming takes place, extends.
People who sleep less than 6 hours a night don't spend enough time in the deepest stages of sleep and are at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who clock at least 7 hours, according to the Restonic Sleep Blog.
Instead of an 8-hour sentence in a void of nothingness, sleep may actually be the magic bullet to a longer, heart-healthier life. Feel free to steal our top 3 sleep hacks to get to a healthier, more productive you.
3 Sleep hacks to get a healthier, more productive you
- Exercise – If you expect to sleep at night, you have to do something during the day to physically tire your body. Walk, hike, run or join a yoga class.
- Set an electronic curfew – Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex and leave your smart phone, tablet, laptop and TV in another room.
- Snack smart – The best snacks to have before bedtime are those that are low in calories but also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body create niacin and serotonin, the calming feel-good hormone.
Eager for more sleep info you can really use? Visit Restonic.com or check them out on Facebook and Twitter and let’s continue the conversation.
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