It seems like most people don’t much sleep these days. And when they do get sleep it tends to be poor quality.
When is the last time you woke up feeling rested?
Lack of rest can make a major impact on the quality of your life, it not affects your mood but your overall health. At a minimum, going through life slightly irritated and tired is no way to live.
Now we have science that can explain what’s going on in our brains with regard to sleep and the lack thereof.
It’s clear that quality sleep promotes optimal brain function. It plays a major role in organizing your thoughts and memories so that you remember what’s important (especially in terms of survival). Good sleep also tunes-up your learning and problem-solving abilities.
As if we don’t have enough things trying to make us sick, poor sleep habits and insomnia can lead to developing numerous chronic diseases, according to a Harvard study.
Dr. Charles Czeisler, a professor at Harvard University, suggests the sleep schedule below:
Newborn (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours.
Babies (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours.
Children (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours.
Preschool (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours.
School age (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours.
Teens (14 to 17) : 8 to 10 hours.
Youth (18-25 years): 7 to 9 hours.
Adults (26-64 years): 7 to 9 hours.
Seniors (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours.
To be clear, we are all individuals and there is room for deviation from this sleep map. For instance, I know of people who truly feel rested from 6 hours sleep. That is just how their body/genetics render sleep for them.
What is causing our chronic sleep dysfunction?
When you get stressed out, a shot of cortisol gets released into your system. It’s also known as the stress hormone and it can significantly affect the quality of your sleep. One way to counter-balance this out is to practice yoga or meditation.
If that seems too alien for you, take a daily walk in nature or spend some relaxing time with a good friend or a pet.
At night, your body releases melatonin which helps you sleep (among other things). Your brain gets confused when you’re watching TV or on the computer late at night because it thinks it’s still daylight/daytime due to the bright light being emitted from those screens.
The problem with this modern lifestyle behavior is that your brain doesn’t signal the release of melatonin unless it thinks it’s nighttime (time to sleep). The best way to remedy this problem is to impose a “technology curfew” and make sure you don’t use electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime.
Reading and journaling are two great ways to let your mind wind down at night.