When I told my doctor that I was teaching classes to overcome insomnia, he said he had many patients experiencing sleep problems and he’d like to refer them to my class, but they would not come. They want a pill, even though the sleep quality may not be as good. I have to admit that for a long time I did not consider sleep loss to be much of a problem. If I didn’t sleep, I didn’t worry about it. “I’ll sleep tomorrow night.” I had no idea how problematic sleep loss can be until I began preparing for these classes.
What’s the big deal about sleep?
There has been a lot of research into the nature, process, purpose and value of quality sleep. There are tons of scientific articles addressing each of these issues, but a Parade Magazine interview with Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington summarizes some of the findings:
“Researchers have found connections between sleep and heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, poor memory, weight gain—and even shortened lifespan. According to a study published earlier this year by the American Psychological Association, sleep has been proven to be the single most important factor in predicting longevity.” Amazing!
What has been discovered is that those who pride themselves on being able to get by with five or six hours of sleep per night are doing themselves a big disfavor. They are shortening their life and laying the groundwork for some major illnesses. Even those who are in bed for eight or nine hours per night but do not sleep well are in danger of experiencing health problems. So, what are we to do?
There are some simple things that can help:
- Establish a consistent routine – go to bed at a set time and get up at a set time.
- Prepare for a good night’s sleep – no electronics, TV, email, etc. prior to going to bed.
- Read before bed but not from an electronic device – the light excites the central nervous system.
Just making these simple changes can make a difference. If sleeping soundly is still elusive, see a sleep specialist. Sleeping medications, prescribed or over the counter, do not address causes and also cover up symptoms. And, they may not provide the benefits of natural sleep.
Good night and sleep well.