Sleep and Your Health
It’s the weekend and that means it’s time to step back, slow down, just plain old stop and rest. It’s our favorite part of the week.
And, this week we are going to discuss sleep…rest and sleep, really, but primarily we’re going to discuss sleep.
We work our bodies hard all week running from hither to yon and now it’s time to wind down. One of the primary things you need to rejuvenate is sleep.
Unfortunately, running on four or five hours of sleep per night and then trying to make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends isn’t going to cut it.
We all need to sleep enough hours at night to help rest our minds and rejuvenate our bodies.
The questions for all of us is how much rest or sleep do we really need?
How does sleep, or the lack thereof, impact our day to day functioning and overall productivity?
What are the benefits of sleep? And, how can we get enough sleep?
We’re going to discuss all of that and then some in this article.
Let’s start learning.
Genesis 2:2-3 says, And by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on that day, He rested from all His work. (vs3) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on that day He rested from all the work of creation that He had accomplished.
As we see in these verses, after 7 days of work, God rested.
God gave this as an example for us to follow. When we have finished our work at the end of the week, we also need to rest.
We need to take time off to rejuvenate our minds and our bodies with well deserved periods of rest and time engaging in activities that rejuvenate us and that give us the strength we need to start the next week with renewed energy and a store of creativity in order to continue to do what God has called to do.
Rest, Recouperation, and sharpening the saw
According to Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, if an individual uses a saw repeatedly and does not take the time to sharpen it, after a while, the saw becomes ineffective.
The same applies to our minds and to our bodies. We need rest and recuperation for our bodies and our minds to remain sharp and effective.
According to Covey, the habit of Sharpening the Saw meant to “Strive for a sustainable lifestyle that affords you time to recuperate, recharge and be effective in the long-term.”
Covey believed it was essential to schedule times of, not just sleep, but renewal in the physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual areas of life. Covey admonished us to spend pre-determined times working on growth, change, and improvement in each of the four areas mentioned.
- In the physical area of life, he encouraged healthy eating, exercise and what we are focusing on here, physical rest.
- In the social/emotional area of life, Covey said we need to spend time making meaningful connections with those we care about.
- In order to renew our minds, we need to spend time reading, writing, learning, and teaching, he said.
- Finally, Covey recommends spending time in prayer, meditation, music, and acts for service in order to renew our spirits.
Overall, in every area of our lives, we need times of refreshing and regeneration.
Now we know we need to take time off in order to be effective in our daily tasks…
But, how much sleep do we Really need?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, as we age, the amount of sleep we need varies.
- Adults over 65 years of age are said to need to sleep at least 7-8 hours each night.
- Adults who are under 65 years of age require 7-9 hours of sleep.
- Teenagers need to sleep from 8-10 hours.
- Children who are school age have to have 9-11 hours of sleep each night for their little minds and bodies to be healthy.
- Toddlers require approximately 11-14 hours of sleep for their bodies to function properly.
- Preschool children need to sleep 10-13 hours.
- And, newborns to infants need an astounding 12-17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour day.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
Medical News Today says lack of sleep can cause:
- an inability to concentrate,
- an increase in appetite
- and a lack of sex drive.
Adults also become more accident prone and more susceptible to serious health conditions such as
- high blood pressure,
- and diabetes.
Sleepy babies are
- apathetic regarding their surroundings.
- and, they show no interest in stimulation.
Older babies and toddlers
- becoming more accident prone
- they’re “clingy”
- and, often times, they become more active as they go without sleep.
- Interestingly enough, sleep deprivation looks a lot like ADHD
- According to Shur-Fen Gau 2006, research suggests “that some kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD are really just sleep-deprived”
School aged children, like toddlers, become
- hyperactive (Kuhn et al 1999; Shur-Fen Gau 2006)
- defiant (Lavigne 1999; Shur-Fen Gau)
- and moodier.
Adults as well as children are
- Harder to wake up in the mornings.
- Have difficulty paying attention.
- Have difficulty staying awake during the day.
- And, often times, try to make up for sleep deprivation by sleeping longer on holidays and weekends.
7 ways to improve your sleep routine
There are specific things we can do to improve our sleep routines in order to get enough sleep.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Sleep gives the following
Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
- Make it a habit to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Don’t drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol before bed.
- It’s a good habit to exercise at least 20 or 30 minutes each day.
- Have a regular routine of engaging in a relaxing habit before bed like taking a hot bath and/or reading.
- Avoid screen time prior to going to sleep.
- Don’t have a computer or TV in your bedroom.
- And, lastly, sleep in a room that is cool and dark.
Sleep routines for teenagers are about the same as adults. However, they should also
- Avoid doing homework at night and at the last minute to avoid staying up all night working on a school report.
- Teens, especially, should be encouraged to avoid screen time before bed.
- Journaling is a good way for adolescents to relax and de-stress prior to going to sleep.
- They also recommend that teens not deviate from a sleep routine, even on the weekends. Teens should sleep no more than 2 hours later on Saturday and Sunday than they usually do.
To help children get enough sleep
- Set a consistent wake-up time and bedtime even on the weekends
- Help them relax before bed by taking a bath or reading to them.
- Make sure they are sleeping in a cool, dark, comfortable environment.
According to Healthy Children.org, babies need:
- Calm and quiet when you feed or change them during the night. They said to try not to stimulate or wake up baby too much.
- Make daytime playtime.
- Put your baby to bed when drowsy but still awake.
- Wait a few minutes before responding to your child’s fussing.
7 Benefits of sleep
When you get enough sleep, studies show:
- You are able to think more clearly so you’re naturally smarter.
- You are healthier and less likely to get sick since sleep allows the body to heal and repair itself.
- You are less likely to be irritable, moody or depressed when you are not tired so you are naturally happier.
- You are less likely to have accidents. ‘
- You are less likely to gain weight.
- You are more alert and engaged with the important people in your life.
- Your ability to handle stress is vastly improved.
technology to help you sleep
If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, you might benefit from the many sleep apps that are on the market today. There are dozens of apps that focus on helping you relax and fall asleep. Youtube also has a multitude of videos that have nature sounds and soothing music that is conducive to having a night of peaceful sleep.
popular Sleep Apps
As stated above, technology covers about every need and concern we have these days including our need to improve and monitor our sleep. Following are a list of apps to help you fall asleep at night.
- Tide is an app that focuses on sleep and relaxation. It is designed to help reduce stress and produce calm in order to improve sleep. The app features nature sounds and guided meditations.
- Calm is a leading app for meditation and sleep. It is designed to lower anxiety and produce more restful sleep. The app has guided meditations, stories to help you sleep, breathing exercises and music to help you relax. Calm is great for beginners to use but also has programs for intermediate and advanced users. The meditations last 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes.
rain rain sleep sounds
- Rain, Rain Sleep Sounds helps you sleep through the use of dozens of endless sounds that will lull you to sleep in no time at all!
- Headspace has 12 customizable nature sounds. It helps with sleep by letting the user practice meditation and mindfulness. When you need some stress relief or lessons on creating better sleep conditions, Headspace can help.
- Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories is for children. The app has over 90 bedtime stories. Moshi helps kids fall asleep by listening to bedtime stories or lullabies.
Apps to monitor how well you are sleeping
Perhaps you are able to fall asleep but you’re not sure how well you are sleeping. Also, you might need an alarm that wakes you up gently when you are in a state of light sleep. Well, there are apps to help like the following.
Sleep Cycle will help you relax but will also keep track of your sleep. The alarm will monitor your sleep cycles and will wake you up when you are in a light sleep. With sleep cycle, you won’t have to put your phone under your pillow. It works even when your phone is just close to you like on your nightstand or on the floor.
Sleep Time calculates when you should wake up and when you should go to sleep. It’s a good choice to help you wake up feeling your best.
Sleep As Android
Sleep for androids is an alarm that wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep cycle for an optimal amount of sleep. It has sleep tracking so you don’t have to take your phone to bed. The alarm clock with sleep cycle tracking wakes you gently when you are in a state of light sleep leading to more pleasant mornings. This sleep app has nature sound alarms and playlists. It also hs lullabies to help you fall asleep quickly.
Sleepzy is also an alarm clock and sleep tracker. It helps to wake you up gently and monitors your sleep patterns. What is unique to Sleepzy, is that it notifies you if you have a sleep debt! All of us could benefit from that information.
Download the corresponding Sleep Tracker
Reviewing what we have learned today:
- We all need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. We need to make it a priority to take a day off and rest at least one day per week.
- Lack of sleep causes us to be vulnerable to illnesses, accidents, irritability, and strained relationships.
- Routines help us to sleep better. Set a consistent time to wake up and to go to sleep. Participate in only relaxing activities before bedtime. Avoid screen time before going to sleep. Make it a habit to sleep in a room that is dark and cool.
- There are apps to help you track your sleep and even help you go to sleep.
One of the things that helps at our house to sleep better at night is the use of a diffuser and essential oils. We add soothing scents like lavender to our diffuser each night before we go to sleep.
Bottom line, pressures of all sorts threaten to smother us on a daily basis. In an effort to keep up, the first thing we often give up is sleep, Missing a few hours of sleep off and on won’t hurt us but long term sleep deprivation along with other negative decisions can have long term effects on our bodies. Before one bad decision becomes a series, it’s important to make a positive decision to take engage in self care and make sure you at least get enough sleep.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis
HE REFRESHES MY SOUL
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul.Psalm 24
“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”
Leave a comment and let me know what you are doing to make rest and sleep a priority! Remember to take care of yourself. God speed.