Sleep is not a luxury – it’s a necessity for optimal functioning

By kimfroats
Sleep is not a luxury – it’s a necessity for optimal functioning

Dr. James O’Brien said it best – sleep is a necessity for optimal functioning and plays a vital role in good physical health and mental well-being. How you feel in your waking hours will depend on how well you are sleeping. This means we have the capacity to change how we feel during the day by focusing on our sleep cycles at night. This is fascinating and an often overlooked cause of declining physical and/or mental health. Ideally your total sleep is made up of 4-6 rounds of sleep cycles, all composed of 4 different stages. There are 3 non-rapid eye movement stages (deep sleep) and 1 rapid eye movement stage (REM). Sleep cycles and stages are important because they allow our brains and bodies to recover, develop, and support multiple functions. Lack of sleep affects our emotions, thinking, memory, physical health and quality of life. This can lead to neurological dysfunctions (such as mood swings and hallucinations); increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease; reduce concentration, creativity, and productivity; and lead to mood dysregulation.

We’ve previously discussed sleep hygiene and optimal ways to capitalize on Z’s, but as a refresher here they are:

1. Exercise daily (any form)

2. Get natural daylight exposure during the day

3. Create a restful environment: darken the room, keep it quiet and at a comfortable temperature

4. Avoid looking at electronics at least an hour before bed

5. Keep electronics outside the bedroom

6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or chocolate before bed

7. Develop a consistent sleep schedule – same time to bed and wake

8. Look into changing your mattress, pillow or sheets if needed

Another option you can consider if you are having trouble sleeping at night is power naps. Yes these are real and effective ways to boost your energy and productivity. Be sure to only keep it between 10-20 minutes! Set an alarm. That way, you are waking up while you are in the REM stage and you won’t wake up feeling groggy or lethargic.

If you think you might have a sleep condition (such as sleep apnea), please contact your primary care provider. If you need help regulating your sleep cycles and stages, please consult with a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist, a naturopathic doctor, or a sleep consultant. If you have further questions or concerns please don’t ever hesitate to contact us at Wishing you restful and peaceful Zzz’s.

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