Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Benefits of Sleep

I came across an article about the importance of healthy sleep habits and being a mother, a multitasker who lives by a set of daily tasks no matter how busy or tired I am, and a super light sleeper...I value (and when I say value I mean VALUE, RELISH, APPRECIATE) a good night's sleep.
I remember awhile back when it was commented to me an opinion on sleeping/napping for adults. I can't remember the exact words but it went something like, "what's the point of sleeping...I'll save sleep for when I die". I guess not all agree with the importance of sleep for your health and well being.

I truly agree that the amount of healthy sleep is based on the individual.  My husband doesn't need as much as sleep as I do to feel good.  My father only sleeps 5-6 hours a night. He wakes up the same time everyday without an alarm. It's his own internal clock. However, most experts agree that the 7-8 hours of sleep/night is best for most people.  I remember before I was pregnant, I would sleep exactly 8.5 hours a night and wake up on my own right at that time. Ahhhhhh the glory days!

So anyhoo, below are some facts I find interesting on sleep:

  •  100 years ago, the average amount of sleep a woman got was 10 hours.  Today, the average woman in America only gets 7 hours/night (a 30% decrease)
  • compelling evidence shows that a lack of sleep is linked to everything from obesity to heart disease
  • when you get less than 6 hours of sleep/night, "your brain releases stress hormones and can get you cranky, forgetful, and unable to concentrate," says John Winkelman, MD, PhD, medical director of the Sleep Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
  • after 2 weeks of sleeping only 6 hours/night, your mental performance and memory are impaired as much as if you stayed awake for 48 hours, according to a University of Pennsylvania study published in 2003
  • sleeping less than 6 hrs./night is associated with an 18% greater risk of heart disease, according to a 2003 study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston (I would argue it's even greater)
  • research at the University of Chicago of college students found that after 4 hrs./night of sleep for 6 nights led to higher blood sugar and a weaker immune system than those students who got a full 8 hours of sleep per night (I would say other variables were also involved such as drinking caffeinated drinks to stay awake and eating unhealthy on-the-go foods)
So reconsider the importance of getting good rest.  Your body will thank you for it!

Mommy Bridget

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