20 Oct The Importance Of Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in our ability to restore and maintain balance and in keeping our physical bodies healthy and fit. Kids and teens need 9 to 10-1/2 hours a night; adults at least 7 to 9 hours, and those over 65, 7 to 8 hours. Most of us aren’t getting those hours! Insomnia is now known to be one of the most commonly reported medical complaints, with more than 1/3 of adults suffering from this dysfunction. Common causes include stress, anxiety and depression, with prescribed medications, nicotine, caffeine, over-eating and alcohol also playing their part.
Research has shown the following consequences of not enough sleep:
- Lack of sleep results in lower mental performance and lack of clarity.
- Memory is also affected – sleep is needed to create bonds between brain cells that strengthen long-term memory.
- Judgment is compromised because overworked brain cells can’t organize or recall things – it’s difficult to make sound decisions.
- Lack of sleep affects motivation and mood.
- Just one bad night’s sleep, or long term lack of sleep, results in irritation, aggravation and lack of energy.
- Over time, this can lead to mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.
- Heart disease and/or diabetes are more likely to develop if you sleep less than 6 hours a night because lack of sleep raises blood pressure, stokes stress, boosts adrenaline and adversely affects the body’s ability to use glucose as well as it should.
- On less sleep a body makes too much insulin which can lead to weight gain.
- A body that hasn’t had enough sleep releases the stress hormone, cortisol. This can break down collagen which helps keep skin smooth. The result: early wrinkles and sagging skin!
- Infections such as colds and flu occur more frequently because some of the proteins or antibodies that provide protection are only released during sleep.
- Finally, less than 5 hours sleep a night equals a shorter life span!!
Here are some suggestions to help you relax, ease stress and anxiety and enjoy a good night’s sleep:
Be Consistent – Stick to the same bed times and rising times as much as possible.
Chill – Bedroom temperatures should be cool.
Unplug – An hour or so before bedtime unplug from cell phones, computers and iPads (true for both adults and children). The light from these screens activates arousal neurons and disrupts melatonin production. Taking your cell phone or laptop to bed with you is a definite No, No!
Dim the lights – Melatonin, our body’s natural, sleep-inducing amino acid is released in low light or darkness; its production is inhibited by bright light.
Try a Sleep Mask – Since levels of light determine how much melatonin you make this could ramp up production! TARA Herbal-Ease™ Eye Pillow, containing the calming and relaxing herbs of Lavender and Chamomile, makes a perfect Sleep Mask!
A Warm Bath – To help the body relax and move more easily into a sleep, add TARA Restful Sleep Bath Salts containing calming herbs and soothing, sleep-inducing Essential Oils, or add a few drops of TARA Relaxing or Stress Relieving Bath & Diffuser Oil. Enhance with scented candles and soft music.
Aromatherapy – Herbs and flowers identified as beneficial sleep aids include Lavender, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Orange, Valerian and Jasmine. Research has confirmed that Jasmine, in particular, boasts superior benefits as a sleep aid and relaxant. It not only induces more peaceful sleep, but a more “productive” sleep — one awakens more refreshed and alert. Its sedating and antispasmodic benefits help one fall asleep and stay asleep all night.
There are several ways to incorporate these herbal benefits into your night time ritual:
- Inhalation: Put 2-3 drops of Essential Oil into your palms and breathe in.
- Put drops of Essential Oil onto the bottom of your feet, your wrists and temples.
- Place a few drops of Essential Oil on a tissue and place under your pillow.
- Add several drops to an aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom.
- Light Essential Oil candles in your living area or bedroom shortly before bedtime.
Moist Heat Release – Place a warm Herbal-Ease™ Neck Pillow around your neck in the evening as you begin to wind down – while doing the dishes or watching TV. A warm Uni-Pack placed on the tummy when you get into bed will relax the body and calm the nervous system.
Yoga and Meditation – Some easy, gentle yoga stretches or a few minutes of breath awareness meditation will help your brain and body get the message that it’s time to wind down and turn off.
A Night Time Drink – Creating a regular ritual of preparing a bedtime drink 30 to 45 minutes before retiring tells your brain and body that it’s time to relax. A warm cup of tea, such as calming Chamomile or Lavender leaves steeped in boiling water with added honey, are good choices. Tart Cherry Juice is a proven natural sleep aid. It’s full of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin which then converts to melatonin.