Sleep: The most important part of the day
Friday, February 14, 2014
We live in a fast-paced society. Everything needs to be done now, and there's always more we have to do. Deadlines, projects, meetings and conferences are a fact of life for many.
Multitasking is now the norm, and it's even more hectic when kids are added to the mix. As a result, we are trying to do more than ever in a 24-hour day.
"I'll rest when I'm dead" is a common catchphrase in the business world. "Naps are for babies!" is another term we hear often. People are expected to put in longer hours at the office to get things done. The more you can do, the more work you're given to do.
Being able to do it all is good, but to do it all at the expense of getting a full night's sleep or adequate rest can be detrimental to your health.
We all know the benefits of exercise and eating healthy, but sleep is just as important to your overall health, and many of our everyday activities can be drastically affected if we don't get enough:
Weight gain: Are you gaining weight and don't know why? Are you exercising and eating a good diet but still putting on the pounds?
Your lack of sleep can be to blame. A lack of sleep can make you feel sluggish and worn down, which in turn can be a sign of a slower metabolism. In other words, your body can't burn calories efficiently when you feel this way.
Stress: Lack of sleep can affect a person's mood, and cause irritability. (Do you get cranky when you're sleepy?) This crankiness can impair your judgment and in turn add additional stress to an already hectic lifestyle.
Stress itself has many negative effects, but extra sleep may help alleviate some of your stress levels and make you more alert, thus helping you cope with life's issues more efficiently.
Getting sick: Are you prone to catching colds or do they seem to last longer than normal? A lack of sleep might be part of the blame. Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, thus making a person more susceptible to colds and the flu.
When we're sick, the body needs extra rest to repair and regenerate itself, and on the flip side, this rest is needed to keep us healthy.
Long-term health issues: According the Harvard Medical School, sleep deprivation over an extended period of time can suppress your immune system and can increase your risk for the following diseases.
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Heart disease
Lack of concentration: It's difficult to focus on an important test, project or meeting if you're sleepy. Adequate rest will help you stay alert and ready for the day's tasks.
As you can see, these are serious issues that could possibly be alleviated by getting rest. The average person simply needs to get to bed earlier to get more rest. But if you have trouble sleeping or have insomnia, try these tips:
- Take a warm bath before you go to bed to relax yourself.
- A nice massage is a great way to relax and unwind.
- Drink an herbal tea like chamomile, catnip, anise or fennel.
- There is debate on whether this actually works, but give warm milk a try if you're not lactose intolerant.
- Set a sleep schedule. Your body has an internal clock. Once on a schedule, it will adhere to it and get sleep on queue.
- Exercise! But of course I'd say that, I'm a personal trainer.
- If all else fails, see your doctor.
If you want to be the best person you can be, getting enough sleep is crucial. Now how much a person needs may vary from person to person, but studies suggest the average person needs between 7-9 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers and infants need more.
Each person is different, so take a good look at yourself and ask yourself if you are experiencing any of the issues discussed above. If so, more sleep may be what you need. Don't let a lack of sleep prevent you from living a happy, healthy life.
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