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  • Alyssa Abrahamson

Sleep 101

How much sleep do you get?

Do you know how much sleep you really need?

If there’s one thing I hear from almost everyone, clients and friends included, it's that they're always feeling exhausted. And it’s no wonder! We live in a world where we are over committing, over working, and overdoing. And we are overstimulated! There’s “no time” for down time unless you MAKE TIME.

How often do you find yourself saying, “I’m so busy” or “I’m so tired” or “I’m exhausted”?

Has feeling fatigued, over extended, and exhausted become your new normal?

If you're sleep deprived, you can’t function properly. Sleep deprivation simply means you aren’t getting enough sleep. And when you don’t get enough sleep, I think it's safe to say that you're more irritable, impatient, you have strained interactions and relationships, you make poor food choices, and unhealthy life choices.

Nowadays our exposure to natural sunlight has declined as working and staying indoors is more common. Technology has taken over and is demanding our constant attention. We’re habitually checking our phones, we’re always “on” and it’s really not a surprise that many of us struggle with calming down, winding down, and getting enough sleep.

Most of us are unaware of how essential it is to get a consistent good night’s sleep. While we hope that our bodies will adjust to a lack of sleep, it’s simply not the case. Science tells us differently. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body really does have a hard time functioning properly, and over time, the impact becomes more pronounced. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but your daily cup of coffee (or three!) is not a solution!

Health consequences of poor sleep include:

  • Disturbed mood and mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Impaired memory and impaired ability to focus and concentrate

  • Fatigue

  • Decreased immune function

  • Weight gain and obesity

  • Increased inflammation

  • Elevated cortisol levels

  • High blood pressure

  • Insulin resistance

  • Heightened risk for chronic diseases (like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease)

  • Early mortality

So what happens when you sleep? Sleep is a beautiful, invaluable time that your body needs to heal and detox. During sleep, your vital organs, muscles, nerves, and brain rest and rejuvenate.

What determines actual sleep? Sleep is defined and determined by various factors and stages, including your 24-hour circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is a natural, internal biological clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. During sleep, your body cycles through four stages that include non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and REM sleep. REM, sleep is an essential stage of sleep where there is a high brain activity, physical immobility and can be attributed to memory and learning. Deep, consistent, long sleep is indispensable.

Your body needs good, adequate rest every single night for many reasons including:

  • Fighting illnesses

  • Strengthens the immune system

  • Cellular restoration that allows cells to repair and regrow

  • Repairing damaged tissues

  • Digestion

  • Detoxification

  • Hormonal balance

  • Brain function Including memory, creativity, problem-solving skills, focus, concentration

  • Improved aspects of athletic and physical performance

Mental clarity, healthy weight, energy, and good moods all stems from good, consistent sleep!

How much sleep do you need? The amount of sleep you need varies, but for most adults it's 7–9 hours per night for (and even more for children and teens). Research has shown that people who can sleep six hours or less without consequences is less than 1% of the population!!! So those of you who think you can live off of 6 hours or less, I’m here to tell you: NOPE. You need more sleep!!!

Repeat: We all Need More Sleep!

I have an autoimmune condition, rheumatoid arthritis; those of us with autoimmunity or chronic illness definitely need more sleep. It doesn’t always happen, but I’ve found that when I get 9 hours of sleep every night, I am at my best. My joints aren’t as stiff when I wake up, my inflammation is lower, and I have mental clarity, energy, I feel rested and happy!

Do you really need 7-9 hours of sleep!? A great way to determine the amount of sleep you need every night is to naturally wake up without an alarm clock. Experiment for at least 4 days in a row, keep a record of when you go to sleep and when you naturally wake up. The amount of time you sleep is the average amount of time your body needs.

Basically, one of the ways you know you’re sleep deprived is if you hit your snooze alarm multiple times. Or if you need more than one alarm clock to wake you up. Is this you?

Please take it to heart that if you’re someone who regularly gets less than the amount of sleep you need, you’re at a higher risk for many different health problems, both mentally, emotionally, and physically.

And for all you parents with babies or young kids, I hear you! I encourage you to grab a nap whenever you can.

Good news! You have a choice. You can choose to make your health, and your sleep a priority. It’s all about making some lifestyle shifts and changes and focusing on getting the sleep you need, in order to stay refreshed, alert and functioning at your best.

Who doesn’t want to feel their best?!

March 3, 2020



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