The dreamy world of sleep can be as elusive as it is welcoming.
Why can’t we fall asleep the same way every night like our friend the animal. Their clocks never fail; when it’s time to hibernate, they hibernate; when its time to wake up, they wake up. None of this tossing and turning , stress and sickness induced sleep deprivation humans experience. Even as a child, all I wanted to do was to snuggle down and sleep without interruption. I didn’t have dreams. In fact I can’t remember dreaming at all until I went to college. Then my world and sleep patterns were turned upside down. The stress of getting good grades, being away from home for the first time and meeting my future husband escalated the priority battle for sleep. My mind just wouldn’t shut down.
People nicknamed me “the energizer bunny“, “the machine” or just plain “crazy” because of my abundance of energy (assisted by my pal coffee) that made the impossible, possible with very little sleep; and in spite of it all, to live a long and productive life. But I do wonder how long I have left before the grim reaper of sleeplessness knocks on my door? Will my shorten sleep patterns eventually turn my brain to mush? Running with this premise and researching the downsides of amnesia, Luck of the Irish comes to mind.
Why is sleep so important to our longevity and health?
Good sleep is as necessary to longevity as eating well and exercise. It’s in slumber that our mind processes and restores information and consolidates memories. It’s where babies grow, teens mature, and adults formulate; a timeout mandate for all.
A person’s sleep/wake ratio is regulated by homeostatic and circadian processes which may vary between individuals throughout life’s aging cycles.¹ Science still can’t tell us the root reason why we need to sleep, but knows for sure we will die without it.
Under 5 hours and over 9 hours (yes, you can sleep too much!) in a 24 hour sleep cycle has been proven to promote confusion and mistakes at work; assist deadly consequences on the road and put a healthy heart at risk. Just one night of acute sleep loss (under 4 hours) can result in higher blood pressure and a person who sleeps 5 or fewer hours per night has a 45% chance of having a heart attack. ¹ So the next time you have an “all nighter” or work way too late or let stress dictate your life, think about the pillow instead. Avoid drinking coffee after 2pm if you’re sensitive to caffeine, a stimulant that can stay in your system all day causing a restless and sleep deprived night. Make time for sleep
It was during this research on sleep that I came upon the blog “Hypothyroid Mom” ² and discovered that lack of sleep can also be caused from diseases of the endocrine glands. For 40 years I’ve been fighting hypothyroidism and had no idea insomnia could have stemmed from this. I was blind sided. Why hadn’t my doctor mentioned it? Maybe I didn’t mention it to him, who knows. Anyway, I now get 7-8 hours sleep every night from a formula of exercise, passionate flower supplements, lower doses of synthroid medication, a redesigned diet, a dreamy pillow, (My Pillow is the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation) and an exceptional pillow-top Serta mattress.
What a difference internet research can make. It may have staved off the “grim reaper” a little longer and for that I am grateful.