Not getting the proper sleep, which we will identify here as restorative sleep can lead to many health problems. One health issue that many people especially as they age is fibromyalgia, which affects 2% to 4% of the population, mostly females. This is pain from all over the body, described as flu-like symptoms that never leave. A recent study done in Great Britain found that poor and insufficient sleep was a leading predictor of pain for adults over 50. |
The restorative aspect of sleep is the important thing to note in these studies. A series of short cat-naps together with a few jolts of caffeine may be enough to keep you functioning, at least on the short term. But restorative sleep or that deep sleep you get a couple of hours into the sleep cycle is the time the body truly regenerates. Dreaming occurs then and it is when the system releases human growth hormones and repairs the cells.
How do we know how restorative our sleep is? There have been identified three areas that to get sleep that is genuinely beneficial for long-term health:
1. The number of hours you sleep. Everyone has different sleep requirements, but most people need 7-8 hours of sleep on a continual basis. Indicators that you are not getting enough sleep are waking up groggy and sluggish and needing a cup of coffee to get you going, and needing to take naps during the day.
2. Sleep time consistency. It has been found that a consistent time for sleep during the night makes for more restorative sleep. This has long been a problem for shift workers who week-by-week is sleeping during different times of the day. Stay consistent as to when you go to bed and when you get up.
3. Sleep intensity. To get into the restorative times during our sleep cycle requires going into a deep-sleep phase. This means staying in a dark, quite place for a few hours that the entire sleep cycle requires. The brain and body must go through different stages during the course of a night’s sleep to get the full health benefits.
There are many other health issues besides fibromyalgia that can be set off with lack of restorative sleep. There have been links to cancer and heart disease as well as weight gain. Premature aging is another, and not just because we’ll look tired all the time. During times of deep sleep the pituitary gland releases growth hormones. This promotes growth and regeneration of the cells, and lacking it being put into the system cells will degenerate and physical vitality will be lost.
As we all know just getting more and better sleep is often easier said than done, especially as we get older. But there are a few things that can make sleeping easier. Exercise is always important, and the conditions in which we sleep often stack the deck against getting a good night’s rest. But getting enough sunlight plays a critical role. Morning sunlight gets your internal clock believing the day has begun, and a half-hour of midday sun will really help. Melatonin, that natural sleep-regulator is produced in contrast to the bright sun exposure of the day and the complete darkness of night.
When you snack can have a great deal to do with sleep and your overall health. Eating before bedtime can cause problems with sleep, as can exercise if you do it too late in the day. Jim O'Connell is a writer and avid health advocate now living in Chicago.
Related Articles -
proper sleep, recuperative sleep, health issues,