I could not think of another way to say it, but yes, Sleep is Important!
I just finished up a course on the impact of sleep. We generally do not give sleep the attention or validate its extreme impact on our daily lives. One thing that permeated the research and material was that we often downplay our lack of sleep as no big deal. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”
Sleep is so vital to our minds and bodies to be healthy and just maintain homeostasis.
Sleep operates in 4 layers.
- The light sleep (non-REM 1), like “taking off” in a plane, still aware of the ground, can see the cars and people, going up. It is entirely possible to land quickly at this stage, like a jolt even.
- The 2nd stage is a little deeper (non-REM 2), still on our way! This stage creates the homeostasis needed for the real work to happen, lowering body temperature, calming the mind and body functions.
- 3rd stage (non-RED 3) is the beginning of some hard work, body repairs! This is the place where we tune up, heal, clean out our chemicals, and reboot bodily functions. We need this to not only heal from sickness but whatever else we do to our bodies daily and start fresh in the morning.
- 4th stage is dreaming (REM). This is vitally important to our mental health. We dream to organize and sort our thoughts, events and daily lives. We need to figure out where it all goes. If we miss this part, we are often confused, irritable and forgetful. Some things will not make sense.
All these stages cycle. Those cycles serve a purpose too. If we don’t get enough sleep we might be missing the most important part, like putting the oil back in the engine after a tune up or putting your files back in the drawer instead of a stack on the desk. The work is not quite finished when sleep is cut short. We need all the bits!
The recommended hours of sleep for adults is 7 HOURS minimum…. MIN.I.MUM.
Here is the chart from the CDC about recommended hours by age. Children needs lots more just because they are growing; creating brain cells and bones and skin and immune systems, etc.
|Age Group||Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day|
|Newborn||0–3 months||14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)1
No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine)2
|Infant||4–12 months||12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2|
|Toddler||1–2 years||11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2|
|Preschool||3–5 years||10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)2|
|School Age||6–12 years||9–12 hours per 24 hours2|
|Teen||13–18 years||8–10 hours per 24 hours2|
|Adult||18–60 years||7 or more hours per night3|
|61–64 years||7–9 hours1|
|65 years and older||7–8 hours1|
If you have struggles with getting to sleep, staying asleep or even sleeping too long (there is such a thing), you can get help for that. Some of us may think,
- “but I feel fine on 4-5 hours”
- “I can’t sleep longer than X hours. I just wake up.”
- “I don’t have time for that!”
We must make time for our sleep. Everything else will suffer if we do not. We set our own circadian rhythm, which is how, when and how long we sleep and are awake for. We can train ourselves to get healthy sleep. It requires consistency and diligence. This is a case where “21 days make a habit” might actually apply.
How!? How do we adjust our sleep schedule and have good sleep hygiene?
I have listed some suggestions according to the stage of sleep it relates to
- Create a sleep routine.
- Same bedtime every night, do things that wind you down, like shut down the house (lock doors, check lights), change your clothes, take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, meditate, listen to relaxing music, talk to your partner, read a book. Tell your body “it is time to sleep.”
- No caffeine at least 6-8 hours before.
- Don’t eat at least 2 hours before.
- NO ELECTRONICS (seriously, it messes with your sleep)
- -4. Keep your room cool, not too cold or too warm. Your body temperature cools when you sleep.
- Keep your lights low.
- Keep noise down and/or sleep with white noise to filter out noises.
- Be comfortable.
- Avoid interruptions