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Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

By Cynthia Perkins

Just like eating healthy and exercise, adequate sleep is an essential component for a health-conscious life style. We are a sleep-deprived society, and this is wrecking havoc on individuals’ mental and physical health.

Lack of sleep can be as dangerous to your health as smoking. Studies have shown that people who sleep seven to eight hours a night lived significantly longer than those who don’t.

Lack of sleep affects all areas of your life:

Emotional You may be more frustrated, irritable, cranky and moody.
Social You may be difficult to get along with and have a lack of desire to socialize.
Cognitive You may have an impaired ability to learn, poor memory and decreased problem-solving abilities.
Physical Your productivity is impaired, you are fatigued and your immune system is compromised, which leaves you vulnerable to disease, infection and colds.
Safety Your judgment may be impaired; you’re less aware and alert, which can lead to accidents; and your hand-eye coordination is impaired.

Sleep restores our physical and mental energy. The body repairs itself while we sleep. It detoxes and heals. We need adequate sleep to help us cope with stress and to relieve fatigue. Lack of sleep often increases pain and fatigue.

Experts used to recommend seven to eight hours of sleep, but it is now believed the average adult needs an average of nine hours of sleep. Some need less, and some need more. Your body will tell you how much sleep you need, if you pay attention.

Tips to improve your sleep:

Don’t use alcohol or caffeine.
Try to maintain a routine of getting up and going to bed around the same time.
Exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
Take a warm bath or shower just prior to bedtime.
Read or watch TV if these are relaxing for you; if you find them stimulating, then you should avoid them.
Avoid conversations on the phone right before bedtime.
If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night, having an orgasm can help you. After having an orgasm, endorphins are released that make you relaxed and sleepy. You must be lying down at the time of the orgasm and then immediately close your eyes and attempt to sleep, before the endorphins wear off.
Keep your sleeping environment clean and free from toxic chemicals such as perfumes, cleaning supplies, pesticides, etc. In addition to their toxicity, chemicals can stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
Use sheets and blankets that are made of natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are a chemical and can stimulate the brain and prevent you from sleeping. Don’t wash your bedding with bleach or scented laundry products, for the same reason.
See a holistic physician for possible nutritional deficiencies or thyroid abnormalities. Both of these can cause sleep difficulties.
Do not use drugs (prescription or otherwise) to assist you in sleeping. Drugs interfere in stage IV sleep, which only aggravates symptoms and robs you of the benefits you should derive from sleeping. Drug-induced sleep is not healthy sleep. If you need assistance, seek a holistic physician that can advice you which supplements and herbs such as melatonin, serotonin, valerian, chamomile, etc., can be used to improve your sleep.

© Cynthia Perkins

Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed., is a holistic health counselor specializing in issues of living with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability as well as sexual intimacy. She is also author of the inspirational e-book Finding Life Fulfillment when Living with Chronic Illness-A Spiritual Journey. Services, e-books and a free newsletter can be found at her website. Or send any email to this address to subscribe to the free Newsletter [email protected].



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