It may not be known to everyone that how we SLEEP is an essential determinant of our overall health and wellbeing. This concept can sometimes be overlooked by professionals and ourselves. Since doing a project last year in my Health Psychology class about sleep disruption, behaviour and psychology, I want to remind everyone of this important information. I want to put emphasis on why sleep is so essential to our wellbeing, the connections it has to the immune system and our behaviour.
Society must start adapting to allow the community the rest for the correct hours of sleep per night. It is commonly seen that most people do not get the correct amount of sleep. Ask yourself, how many hours are you getting? Is it disrupted? Do you feel rested the day after? The average adult usually sleeps anywhere from 7.5 - 8 hours but can range for others between 6 - 9 hours. Every individual has a different amount needed for their body to stay healthy. (Canadian Sleep Society).
The Canadian Society for Sleep states:
"You can determine this ideal amount of sleep by simply paying attention to whether or not you feel rested in the morning and alert throughout the day. If no amount of sleep will make you feel rested on the next day, then you may want to seek medical advice, including being be evaluated for a sleep disorder. People tend to sleep longer on weekends; this may be because there is more spare time to do so, or it may be due to accumulated sleep debt during the prior week. It is important to understand that you cannot "catch up" on lost sleep, or store sleep for the future, by getting more on weekends. This is because lost sleep on any given night has immediate consequences for the very next day, such as work or school performance and driving safety. Getting the sleep you need is important for optimal learning, productivity, safety, and health."
You can read more here.
This was hard for me to learn. Throughout high school, my body saw many sleepless nights until I started to make a change towards a healthier sleep routine. This started with creating a more realistic sleep goal for each night along with a strong bedtime routine. What you do before you sleep makes a big difference in your body's ability to shut down. Insomnia and other sleep disorders can also be seen along with anxiety and depression. Commonly, one may not be able to sleep because of how their mental disorder affects their circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is the 24 hour time frame the human body uses to work efficiently. Each of us has our own circadian rhythm that may differ from someone else.
In my Health Psychology class a few semesters ago, I got the chance to research the importance of sleep and it's relation to behaviour among the body. This led to me finding significant information regarding sleep disruption and how it significantly decreases one's overall immune response. This process can be broken down a lot more than I am explaining here. In short, if you do not get enough sleep, you will see a LARGE decrease in immune functions. This is because of increased inflammatory activity within the body because of excess sympathetic nervous system activity. The sympathetic nervous system overstimulation leads to less regular sleep and immune function. Inflammation in the body, as we know, can have detrimental effects including an increased risk for most chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke. I will include a link for this paper I wrote below if you want to understand these connections more.
This path can be scary. No sleep can increase the body's stress response, creating more inflammation. More inflammation can create more stress leading to less sleep. This vicious cycle can bring many negative issues to our physical and mental health. Chronic disease poses as a very serious risk to our health and I believe taking preventative measures can really help!
For myself, when I don't sleep I stress even more about how little sleep I got. I then find myself reaching for more sugary foods, having less time for exercise and physical activity plus feeling lethargic or sluggish. Fun fact, science shows that when you do not sleep enough or even sleep too much, you tend to eat more junk food.
The human body needs adequate sleep for proper restoration overnight. If you are experiencing difficulties sleeping here are some ideas that may help:
I hope a few of these remedies could help you increase your levels of sleep. I know how difficult it can be to not be able to sleep when your body needs it the most. I want you to understand that sleep is one of the most important determinants of our health so it is necessary to put sleep first in our daily routine.
To add to this post, I am going to refer to more information from the Canadian Sleep Society. I really want to show the dangerous consequences of not sleeping enough. Using a biopsychosocial model, researchers find connection between our biology, behavioural attitudes and social conditions, I explain this more in my research paper. Below are some more risks of not getting enough sleep.
Canadian Sleep Society:
"When the brain circuitry does not get the suitable amount of sleep, it cannot store or retrieve information and the ability to tolerate situations of stress and functioning at a higher level, are impaired. The major result of poor sleep is therefore a brain drain with the brain functioning at a lower level"
"Insufficient sleep, even on a single night, has a number of immediate consequences including lower alertness, negative mood, reduced motor and visual acuity, longer response times, and impaired attention and memory. Chronic sleep restriction over days and weeks leads to cumulative deficits in alertness, mood and cognitive performance. As well, insufficient sleep can have long-term consequences for health including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease."
After reading that information I want you to ask yourself:
Do you currently get enough sleep for your body to work as efficient as it can?
Do you feel rested in the morning and throughout the day?
Is your sleep schedule irregular? How can you fix this?
I hope this reflection allows you to better understand your own sleeping habits and their importance. If you are looking for more information about this topic, there is endless research out there and it is very fascinating. Below is the file link for the paper I wrote in my Health Psychology class.
Thank you for reading everyone!
This is how to flourish.