I’ve been experimenting with something lately.
Sleep. As in, getting more of it.
(There’s a radical idea).
See, there are phases in life:
-The Baby Years. Folks are literally begging you to sleep and you are hit-or-miss with it. Benedryl didn’t put a cautionary note on their packages about it not being used as a sleep aid for children for nothin’.
-The School/College Years. You have no interest in sleeping during normal sleeping hours. You want to sleep any other time.
-The Grown-Up Years. You would practically give your eye-tooth to get more sleep, to allow people to allow you to sleep, to figure out how to cram more sleep into your life. Moving to Europe to bring the “siesta” into your daily life becomes a serious consideration.
Given these phases, I found this interesting about our sleep needs:
1-4 weeks old: Needs 15-16 hours of sleep
1-4 months: 14-15 hours
4-12 months: 14-15 hours
1-3 years: 12-14 hours
3-6 years: 10-12 hours
7-12 years: 10-11 hours
12-18 years: 8-9 hours
18 to adult: 7-9 hours
Hmm. When we need the most, we rarely want it and when we want the most, we don’t need it. Mama Nature must have taken the afternoon off when this was all being sorted out.
I’ve been reading that sleep, when you do get an adequate amount of it for your age, does a miriad of great things. It improves your memory via a process known as “consolidation” where you actually “practice” what you learned throughout the day while you are sleeping (how cool is that?). It prevents inflammation of the body, which can be linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging (gah!). Your cells renew and repair and your hormones and immune system recharge. You are more creative, your stress levels are lower, and you are emotionally more stable (goodbye, road rage). Add to that, it helps maintain a healthy weight (when you are sleepy, certain hormones increase, which make you want to eat more), the muscles in your face are relaxed for the duration of your sleep (fly away, crow’s feet!) and your complexion improves because of healthier blood circulation.
Well, I’ll be darned. Or hopefully not sleep-deprived for long.
How can I get all of this goodness?
-Set a regular bedtime (so tricky for me!)
-Wake up at the same time
-Nap to make up for lost sleep, but do it in the early afternoon and for no longer than 30 minutes (can do!)
-Increase your light exposure during the day to reinforce natural rhythms
-Keep a pad of paper and pen by your bed. If you need to remember something for the morning, write it down so that its not jangling around in your head all night
-Pure lavender oil…rub on temples before bed and drift off to Provence
-Here’s the big one…TURN OFF the computer, iPad and TV a while before bedtime. Those artificially lit screens are messing with your sleep rhythms big-time!