Based on conversations with you (my friends), many of us experience bouts of insomnia. I certainly do! Because of that malady, I am very drawn to articles about sleep.
It is a known fact that the average human lives longer than they did 100 years ago. Not surprising at all, recent studies indicate that the general population is sleeping less and less on a nightly basis. The less sleep a person averages, the shorter their life-span and the less able they are to fight off disease. Per Lawrence Epstein, MD, author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, “Sleep has shortened in duration from 8 hours in the 1950’s to 7 in recent years.” The question that I cannot seem to shake is, if we are sleeping less, will our life spans be shortened (as a whole) in generations to come?
Have you ever experienced a couple of sleepless nights that left you feeling as if you could not handle yourself emotionally? One of those days where you know you had better just STAY QUIET ALL DAY, ha! According to Phyllis Zee, MD, of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University in Chicago, when people are sleep deprived the stress hormones in their bodies are increased. And guess what else increases? Inflammation. Remember the achy back, sore knees, and swollen ankles (especially in us middle aged folks) when we are sleep deprived? Ta-da…it is definitely a double edged sword…no sleep…feel worse…feel worse and no sleep.
Another thing that fascinates me, did you know that we still have growth hormones in our bodies when we are between the ages of 20 and 60? The more sleep a person gets, the more rejuvenated they are, and it is related to growth hormones. We do not grow at those ages, but our body does repair itself. The hormones help with muscle mass, better skin, younger looking all the way around. And the number one way to keep the hormones as high as possible is to sleep well!
I am not going to talk about sleep until I am blue in the face, besides, I need a power nap soon! Oh, speaking of power naps…a daily nap, of 30 minutes or so, can increase a person’s life-span by up to 30 years!
By the way, nobody really knows the correct amount of sleep people should get. They say it depends upon genes. Some people need 8 hours, some need 6. The entire thought wraps around one thing, being sleep deprived (whatever that number is), is not healthy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all sleep like babies again? A person might wonder, do we have too many electronics in our lives (computers, cell phones, games, televisions)? What about the new compulsion of working around the clock, mixing work and personal life? Many years ago people read at night, by oil lamp or candlestick. Early to bed, early to rise. I wonder if there were many insomniacs back then? Oh well…another topic…another day.