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A friend of mine once said — “He who sleeps, wastes!”
I thought about this very often, reflected, and decided the world has so much to offer, why sleep it off, when you can experience so much.
Travel between continents, time zones, varied food and cultures, was fantastic experiencing, but it took a toll on my sleep and my body. With years of popping a pill as the go to solution for minimum rest of the mind, body or to beat jetlag, all I can say today is I do not recommend this to any one at any age or stage of life.
If you are part of this bandwagon, read on to know how sleep deprivation can take its toll on your body in your latter years.
Sleep deprivation carries a host of adverse and chronic side effects —
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Increase risked of accidents
- Depression and anxiety
- Suppressed immune system
Lets begin with talking about —
- What sleep is?
- What it does to the body?
- What harm sleep deprivation can cause?
According to the Oxford dictionary — “sleep is a condition of the body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the eyes are closed, the postural muscles relaxed, the activity of the brain altered, and consciousness of the surroundings practically suspended.”
Sleep is vital from birth to eternal rest, it helps growth when young, and continues to promote, emotional wellbeing and sharpness of mind.
Both quality and quantity of sleep are equally important.
There are five stages of sleep —
Stage-1 LIGHT SLEEP
This is the initial stage of sleep, when the eye and muscle function slows down. Notice how you feel, your eye lids feel heavy, if you blink opening your eyes wide happens slowly, you yawn and experience a feeling like you are floating.
STAGE-2- ENTERING SLEEP
At stage-1- you know its time to hit the sack, as you lay down and shut your eyes, your eyes begin to stop moving, your brain function slows down, your muscles relax, you may feel them twitch, your body is preparing for the next stage of deep sleep.
NOTE: 50% of our sleep time is spent in this stage.
STAGE-3- THE FIRST PART OF DEEP SLEEP
The brain now begins to create Delta waves and it can be difficult to wake someone up when they are at this stage of sleep. The human Growth Hormone (HGH) responsible for recovering and regenerating the body is secreted during this stage.
STAGE-4- THE SECOND PART OF DEEP SLEEP
At this stage, the Delta waves are in full swing in your brain sending the body into recovery and refresh mode. This is considered the most important stage of the sleep cycle because it leaves you feeling revitalized.
STAGE-5- THE ‘REM’ STAGE
Rapid eye movement (REM) is a stage that begins approximately ninety minutes after we fall asleep and a complete cycle of it takes 90-110 minutes and amounts to 20% of your sleep time. It is at this stage we dream. As the name suggests, you experience rapid eye movement, your breathe is quick and shallow and all extremities are temporarily paralyzed and your heart rate and blood pressure rise. The longer you sleep, the longer is your REM cycle and vice versa. Here is something unique about the REM stage, if the body does not complete a REM cycle, it has the ability to carry it forward to the next night, and the REM cycle begins as soon as you fall asleep. I find this phenomenon phenomenal.
Sleep deprivation causes so much harm to the body, and we all know that this is prevalent in older adults. Statistics show that millions of people who are sleep deprived or have low quality sleep are at a risk of type-2 diabetes or an insulin resistance condition. These conditions metabolically age you quicker, store fat longer and cause further overall health issues.
You need to be on top of your game when it comes to getting your eight hours of quality sleep. HOW?
1- Monitor your sleep patterns, how you actually sleep versus how you think you sleep.
Answer the following questions to find out —
- What time did you go to bed?
- Was your sleep uninterrupted?
- How long did you sleep for?
- Did you fall asleep quickly?
- Did you feel fresh when you woke up?
Write a journal for a week and compare the results.
Better still, in fact easier; get an app on your phone WHOOP, OURA, IPHONE HEALTH.
Or a device that measures sleep – AMAZON HALO, FITBIT CHARGE 5, APPLE WATCH.
2- The hormone Melatonin plays an important role in getting adequate quality sleep, it is produced by the brain’s pineal gland and its main function is to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The amount of sunlight and daylight you expose yourself to on a daily basis is vital, it’s the natural magic ingredient to surge melatonin levels. Expose yourself to the sun.
3- Artificial blue light stimulates the body to produce more daytime hormones like cortisol (stress hormone) we all know what ramifications stress has on health. Cut screen time two hours before bedtime, remove the TV from your bedroom, place your phone on airplane mode and in a drawer to protect yourself from waves and read a book (paper book) instead to wind down.
4- Foods to add versus foods to limit,
ADD- cherries, they are a natural form of melatonin, two hours before bedtime gives it enough time to digest and release the melatonin.
LIMIT- caffeine intake – coffee, coke, tea, – Alcohol intake – alcohol interrupts the REM stage of sleep, you don’t need to live like a monk if you enjoy your drinks. My recommendation: don’t drink to excess and always drink sensibly.
5- Your bedroom; its sacred,
Keep it free of too many elements,
Keep the temperature right for weather conditions,
Keep light away,
Keep too much furniture away too.
Most importantly go to bed on time so your body gets the advantage of natural rhythms, it’s when this is regulated that the hormone secretion is optimal and your body recovers.
TO CONCLUDE —
- One of the most overlooked benefits of sleep is a process called memory processing, its when short-term memories get converted into long-term memories, this happens in the REM stage.
- 10am-2am is the time your body secrets the optimal amount of hormones, giving your body the best recovery.
- Our sleep-wake cycle is based on the hunter- gather days, wake at sunrise and sleep at sunset. Artificial and blue light is known to interrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle. Keep this light to the minimum.
- Sleep rests your body, rebuilds, enhances growth and revitalizes the immune and musculoskeletal systems, get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to slows down the overall ageing process.
How great would it be to wake up feeling refreshed, revitalised, and ready to conquer the world every morning — without the sleeping pill.