By Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed. ©
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 individual’s mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can be as dangerous to your health as smoking. Studies have shown that people who slept 7 to 8 hours a night lived significantly longer than those who didn’t.
Lack of sleep affects all areas of your life including:
~Emotional- you may be more frustrated, irritable, cranky and moody
~Social-you may be difficult to get along with, lack of desire to socialize
~Cognitive-impaired ability to learn, poor memory, decreased problem solving abilities
~Physical- productivity is impaired, fatigue, a compromised immune system which leaves you vulnerable to disease, infection, and colds etc.
~Safety-judgment may be impaired, your less aware and alert which can lead to accidents, hand eye coordination is impaired
Sleep also restores our physical and mental energy. The body repairs itself while we sleep. It detoxes and heals. Thus, for us individuals living with chronic illness or chronic pain, obtaining adequate sleep is vitally important. We need adequate sleep to help us cope with stress, to relieve pain and fatigue and keep symptoms to a minimum. Lack of sleep in the chronically ill often increases pain and fatigue and exacerbates whatever symptoms they may experience.
Experts used to recommend seven to eight hours of sleep, but it is now believed the average adult needs an average of nine hours sleep. Some need less and some need more. For those living with chronic illness more may be required, or frequent naps will be necessary. Your body will tell you how much sleep you need if you pay attention. Feeling refreshed and well is often not possible for those with chronic illness or pain, but find the amount you need to function as optimally as possible for your situation.
Tips To Improve Your Sleep
~No alcohol or caffeine
~Try and 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 they are stimulating then you would want to avoid
~Avoid conversations on the phone right before bedtime
~If your 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 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.