I’m reading more and more about the importance of sleep to our overall health and well-being, and all I have to say about this is . . . HALLELUJAH! I am a BIG fan of sleep. :) The challenge I, and many of you, face is getting enough sleep each day. With one million things to accomplish, another million things to worry about, and a few physical ailments thrown in the mix – it’s tough to get adequate shut-eye.
A recent article by Pamela Weintraub in Experience Life magazine talks about The Healing Power of Sleep.
New science shows that sleep is essential to our mental and physical health – and most of us aren’t getting enough.
Weintraub explains that missing out on as little as one hour of sleep each night can have serious implications on our health. Our immune systems “go into overdrive” when we do not get enough sleep, leading to things like systemic inflammation and igniting some troublesome genetic triggers. She provides numerous examples of just how seriously sleep deprivation can affect our bodies, including:
- impaired alertness
- vision problems such as blurred vision and even glaucoma
- high blood pressure
- increased food cravings
- insulin resistance
- hearing loss
- muscle weakness
- heart disease
- hair loss
- weight gain
I don’t know about you, but that list is enough to make me want to go to sleep right now!
So, how much sleep is enough? Most people need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep each night, but there are people who can legitimately function well on less and there are also those who truly need more – even needing as much as 10 hours every night.
The article states the key to determining how much sleep we need is figuring out what time we have to go to bed in order to wake up unassisted (without an alarm) or without feeling groggy. (Just so you know – that rarely happens to me no matter how much sleep I get! My poor husband listens to the alarm clock blare incessantly for extended periods of time each morning.) I think I fall in the 7-8 hour range, but I find it challenging to get that much sleep. Ideally, I would like to be awake at 5:00 am so that I can have my quiet time, eat breakfast and get ready for work before leaving at 7:00. This means I need to be in bed by 9:00 or 9:30 each night. When I don’t get home until 6:00 pm or later, there’s not much time for anything in the evenings. This will become even more challenging now that Daylight Savings Time has started and it will be staying light later.
I know for patients going through cancer treatment, sleep can be hard to come by thanks not only to the drugs, but stress, physical pain, and just an over all ill feeling. I was blessed during my first-line treatment – I slept well and woke easily. I’m not sure why that occurred, but I’m glad it did. I do think it helped me get through the process feeling better than if I had struggled to sleep each night.
What about you? Do you sleep well or struggle to sleep at all? How many hours do you need? 7? 8? More? My stepdaughters fall in to “more” category. :)
If you would like to read Weintraub’s article in it’s entirety, you can find it here.