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Top 10 Facts To Know About Sleep & Why You Need Enough

Added October 25, 2014, Under: Health, Parents

woman in bed with insomnia that can't sleep with alarm clockSuffering from lack of sleep, whether you know it or not, is probably one of the most common conditions affecting people in the Western world today and yet, we cannot over emphasize the importance of sleep.

Here are those 10 facts

While you might not know about them, there are definitely some with which you will be able to identify.

1. 18 Days, 21 hours and 40 minutes is the record for the longest period someone has deliberately gone without sleep. During that time, the record holder reported: slurred speech, paranoia, hallucinations, blurred vision, memory and concentration lapses – all signs of the dangers of sleep deprivation.

2. If you have a new baby you are likely to lose between 400 to 750 hours of sleep in the first year – most new parents will know only too well all about this!

3. Staying awake for 17 hours is equal in decreased performance to that of having a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

4. 1 in every 6 fatal road accident is said to be attributed to fatigue.

5. Nearly everything we know about sleep today has only been learnt or discovered during the last 25 years. It was obviously all a bit hit and miss before then.

6. The ideal amount of sleep for an adult is between 7 to 8 hours.

7. A child between the ages of 11 and 18 needs about 8.5 to 10 hours of sleep every night.

8. Most adults in the modern world only get only an average of 6.5 hours of sleep a night.

9. Drink a lot of coffee? 33% of people who have 4 or more caffeinated beverages daily are at risk for sleep apnea.

10. You’re more likely to feel hungry when you sleep less – putting you at risk of weight gain from unnecessary snacking. We have written about the link between insomnia and weight gain right here.  There is increasing evidence that chronic sleep deprivation raises the risk of weight gain while if you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to suffer from insomnia. Sleep can even help you to lose weight. This is good news because researchers have found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. The reason is probably that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in your body, affecting your appetite.

Why do we need enough sleep?

  • Too many people think of sleep as something that can be sacrificed in favor of everything else. Melatonin is vital but as it is only produced during darkness, you need to make sure your room is darkened at night. Light stimulates that part of the brain that tells the pineal gland to decrease the melatonin level when it is daytime and to increase it when it is night time and dark. You can reduce any light source gradually to improve both the quality of your sleep and the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and get that rest.
  • Sleep is vital for your immune system as along with exercise and diet, good quality sleep is one of the 3 main components that keep your body running smoothly and your immune system strong, ensuring you wake up energized.
  • Inflammation is one of the greatest causes of health problems today but sleep helps to reduce inflammation. Any increase in your stress hormones, because of lack of sleep, can raise the level of inflammation. As well as heart-related conditions, this can also be a risk factor for cancer, diabetes, arthritis and more
  • Sleep boosts our memories while even naps can make us smarter.
  • Suffering from tiredness can in crease your stress levels, even causing you to think irrationally.
  • Even a lack of sunlight can affect the quality of your sleep, impacting on that circadian rhythm which is the process that controls the body clock so that you can end up with unfortunate symptoms that are not unlike jet lag – including morning mood swings, low energy, increased appetite plus a feeling of being withdrawn and passive. Take away the sunlight and you experience an increase in the levels of melatonin – that hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy – and a decrease in the levels of seratonin which is often called the happy hormone. A deficiency in serotonin can lead to depression while a sleep-deprived body can cause stress so that all its functions are on high alert. Such a state can increase blood pressure and the production of stress hormones adding to risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. You need sunlight in the day time and real darkness at night.

Learn about the natural ways to fall asleep

  • Many plants and herbs can be soothing and calming and even improve the quality of your sleep or help insomnia by removing toxins from the air. The moisture given off by all house plants helps to counteract the formation of airborne microbes so as to diminish the allergens in rooms, especially the bedroom.
  • Improve your body clock by a regular routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time each day with time to unwind before bed, especially if it has been a hectic day. The main cause of insomnia is a busy mind working overtime. Get up once you have had a good night’s sleep to avoid feeling sluggish. If you find it difficult to start your day, a refreshing shower should do the trick.
  • Take a hot bath before bedtime to raise the body’s core temperature before bringing it down again. Add 3 drops of an essential oils formula to the bath water and once you are dried off, massage a drop to the back of the neck and temples. If you find that you wake up in the night and cannot get back to sleep again, apply a further drop to your temples.  Our own H-Insomnia provides the perfect formula to keep next to the bath and/or the bed for an instant anti-insomnia remedy.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool with plenty of ventilation. All electronic devices should be turned off at night and preferably removed from the bedroom.
  • Treat yourself to some cherries as these are a great source of melatonin, making the perfect bedtime snack along with a handful of walnuts. When cherries are out of season, drink some pure, natural cherry juice instead.
  • Ensure your mattress is not old and decrepit. A biometric foam mattress may suit you better than a memory foam mattress because the latter can raise the body’s temperature and lead to insomnia.

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Sleep comes more easily than it returns.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

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