I used to think sleep was a waste of time and secretly wished I could function on less. There is always so much to do and so little time (can I get a witness?) Now that I have a better understanding of what happens when my body shuts down for the night I have more respect for this sacred time. Let me share just 3 major things that happen when you and the kids go down for shut eye and maybe you’ll see your siesta a little differently too.
Our nervous system can’t wait for us to turn the lights out. This is the major time for our nerves to repair and restore. Things learned throughout the day become more solidified in our memories and our center for emotion gets to decompress. This is why our children, who are busy learning and dealing with emotions all day, do better when they maximize on their sleep.
During deep sleep there is release of growth hormone in children and young adults. I know this is true because my kids always look taller when they wake up in the morning. It seems like they are sprouting more inches every night.
The right amount of sleep helps with weight control. The increase growth hormone helps convert fat to fuel and for us middle agers battling the bulge, we get a spike of leptin at night which helps suppress our appetite (Are you doing the happy dance yet?… I am.)
With all this great stuff going on when we sleep you think it would be top priority everywhere. That memo is getting out though because all across the world we have a serious issue with burning the candle at both ends and trying to get everything done, besides sleep.
Sleep deprivation is now a global epidemic. With technology taking off we have access to bright lights and the internet almost every where we go. It’s not always that obvious to us that sleep deprivation kills. Sadly, it is linked to over 1,500 vehicular deaths every year. The next time you’re sleepy behind the wheel please pull over the first chance you get and rest. A sleepy driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver. Sleep-deprived people who are tested by using a driving simulator perform as badly as, or worse than those who are intoxicated (now that you put it that way…).
Now that I got you thinking, you’re beginning to ask “So how much sleep do we need anyway.” Try to remember these numbers – 12,10 and 8. Elementary school children need 12 hours of sleep a day, Teenagers need 10 hours a day. No, there was no typo there- Teenagers need 10 hours a day. Lastly, Adults need 8 hours. These are all averages. Folks in your family may need a little more or a little less but try to aim for that general ball park.
It may seem strange and even inconvenient trying to schedule more sleep into your life but its worth it if your goal is a healthier family and a healthier you.
Here’s to your best life yet.
You’re title caught my eye, Dr. Kathy. Thanks for the reality check and reminder to do what I know I need to do, as well as why. Keep it up! You’re helping us all.
Thank you for the comment Sandra. You’re a great encouragement.