Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Why is sleep so important

If you are having trouble sleeping or not getting enough you are not alone. It is estimated 3.3 Canadians at the age of 15 or older do not get adequate amount of sleep. Without sufficient sleep our health and our daily performance are significantly affected. For instance, after a few days of lacking sleep you will not be able to function. For one, you’ll feel lousy, irritable or lack the energy to do anything.  Sleep deficiency can even interfere with your school work, driving, social functioning, learning, decision making and much more. As well, chronic long term sleep deprivation can cause you to develop certain illnesses like high blood pressure heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, psychiatric problems (e.g. depression and mood disorders), mental impairment, fetal, childhood growth retardation etc.  As you can see, sleep has a profound effect on our health and emotional well being and without it we are not our normal self.

Although there are no scientific reasons to explain why we sleep, experts say that we need sleep to rest our bodies and our minds. We all don’t need the same amount of sleep, but getting enough is what counts for your body to function normally and to prevent health problems. While there are countless benefits of sleeping, here are several main reasons why you need a good night’s rest: 

Sleep helps your brain work properly and is good for your mental health
Sleep plays an important role in your physical health
Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function well throughout the day
Makes you feel better, happier and more energetic 
Sleep increase your immune system to fight off infections, colds, flu etc
Maintain a healthy weight
Reduces stress levels
Muscle repair and a reduction in inflammation

Achieving a good night sleep begins with you having a regular bedtime schedule and creating an environment that is relaxing. A great way to help you relax and ease your mind before going to bed is stretching exercises, yoga or listening to tranquil music. Stretching or yoga before bedtime can help to release muscle tension thus relaxing your body without increasing your heart rate.  As well, do not eat before going to bed. A full stomach disturbs your sleep.  If you feel hungry before going to bed, try drinking water, but not too much as you may take frequent trips to the bathroom. Drinking water before bedtime will not only make you sleep better, but it also rids your body of unwanted toxins. Another thing is don’t bring your cell phone to bed with you. You would be surprise to know how many people take their cell phone to bed with them. Finally, turn off the television, shut down the laptop and enjoy a good night’s sleep. 

Sleep is not an option, it is necessary. We need our sleep and without it we see that our health can be compromised. If you are experiencing difficulties with your sleep talk to your doctor to find out if you might have a sleep disorder or health problems.  

Sherldine Tomlinson.