As long as I can remember, I have been blessed with the ability to fall asleep almost immediately after laying down. Friends with whom I travel remark often that I seem to be asleep before my head touches the pillow, and that seems to be a very accurate observation. I love a good night’s sleep! Sometimes I will put on some music very low to mask any background noises that could distract me. One of my favorites is Santana’s “Smooth.” Listening to the quiet Latin rhythms relax my mind.
Here are just a few of the latest findings on the importance of sleep. As you read these, reflect on your own experience with the quality and quantity of sleep and the impact it has had on you in all areas of your life.
- Short sleep duration is associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity in both children and adults.
- Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite.
- Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory.
- Longer sleep seems to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.
- Sleeping less than 6-7 hours per night has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- A strong link between short sleep duration and Type 2 diabetes has been found in many studies.
- Poor sleep patterns (especially disorders like insomnia) are strongly linked to depression.
- Sufficient sleep (7-8 hours) can improve immune function and help fight the common cold.
- Lack of sleep can add to your body’s inflammatory response and has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and increases the risk of occurrence.
- Sleep deprivation may reduce social skills and the ability to recognize the emotional expressions of others.
My favorite bedtime routine is quite simple. As I ready for bed, I mentally place all my worries, cares, and concerns into a smooth river rock found years ago while hiking and place it on my bed stand. I know these will be in that rock waiting for me in the morning when I wake up. If my mind decides it wants to rehash something I’ve placed in the rock, I have to get up out of bed, stand beside it, and hold the rock as I fret or worry. Sleep time is for rest, relaxation and repair. Only when I am willing to let go of the thoughts again may I return them to the rock and put it back on the bed stand. This may sound silly but it reminds me that I have to let go for my own good from time to time.
The bottom line is that a good night’s sleep is one of the pillars of good health, along with eating well and staying active. As I used to say to my kids when I tucked them in, “Good night, sleep tight; wake when the sun shines bright!”
Do you have a nighttime ritual that eases you into restorative sleep?
I Care, Barb