5 Reasons Why You Need Enough Sleep
When the Steve Miller Band sang that, “time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future” they weren’t kidding. It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the milestone of turning twenty-one, but in reality I am forty, and all the inconveniences attributed to the milestone birthday never fail to remind me of the fact.
Back pain, irritability, and taking life at a slightly slower pace aren’t just stereotypes for turning forty. In fact, it seems like since I blew out all forty candles on my birthday cake, those stereotypes are more like a way of everyday life!
The everyday duties of being a stay-at-home wife to a firefighter and mom to two teenage boys is enough, but add in the job of homeschooling as well as working as a freelance writer, and you get a schedule that rivals that of any corporate professional.
When my sons were still babies I took advantage of their nap time to catch up on my own rest. Even if I didn’t nod off, I’d curl up with a good book or catch up on whatever television I’d been missing that didn’t involve puppets or singing dinosaurs.
Sleeping Your Way to Better Health
As they outgrew their need for a daily nap, I started using the time to do other things. I often kept busy from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until the time my head hit the pillow at night, and during that time it seemed that when I wasn’t yawning, I was longing for the naps of yore.
Finally I mentioned the problem to my doctor who educated me on the importance of getting enough rest, and the benefits go beyond affecting how many cups of coffee I drink through the ensuing day.
The bottom line is that I am the only person who can make sure I get enough rest. As someone who often preaches that you won’t always have someone there to tell you when it’s time to go to bed or get up in the morning, it was time for me to heed my own advice.
Here are five reasons my doctor gave me for getting enough rest. Some of them seem like common sense, and deep down I’d already figured those out, but others came as a total shock.
- Brain power – Just like your computer occasionally needs rest to store memory, so does your brain! Multiple scientific studies on the topic prove that people who get adequate sleep at night have better memory in regards to recalling details about tasks they’ve learned throughout the day.
- Weight loss – Lack of sleep is the number one factor in changes to metabolism that not only cause weight gain, but also make it difficult to lose extra pounds. Sleep deprivation tells our body that it needs to store up extra carbs as well as alters hormones that affect our appetites.
- Concentration and mood – When I don’t have my morning coffee, I’m a grouch, but when I lack getting enough sleep I’m the queen of grouches. Lack of sleep causes people to be irritable, impatient, moody, and easily distracted. Even if you don’t exhibit these traits after an occasional night without enough sleep, if it happens too often these traits will soon become as obvious to you as they are to everyone else.
- Stress – People who are under a lot of stress tend to spend more time on bad habits, whether it’s smoking, drinking, or overeating – all three which prevent a good night’s sleep. Hypertension and heart disease go hand in hand, so lacking enough sleep could also lead to poor cardiovascular health. Some severe cases of stress create pattern baldness, which causes people to seek out hair loss treatments.
- Safety – This is something I hadn’t given much thought to because I work at home. Because I’m married to a firefighter, safety is drilled into my brain. After a particularly late night, I’d yawned my way through until noon when I decided to cook pasta for lunch. In my exhausted, distracted state I failed to notice a spot of grease beneath the burner, causing the stove to catch fire. Luckily we keep a fire extinguisher close at hand but it proved that not even someone who stays indoors all day is immune to accidents when sleep deprived.
Turn off the Computer and Go to Sleep!
Don’t just turn off the computer; turn off the phone, the iPad, the television, and any other electronic device. There are a lot of distractions in our daily lives that should be considered when preventing premature aging. We feel compelled to stay connected to the world twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Our bodies were not built to work this way. Adults require at least six to eight hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. If you’re a healthy adult who doesn’t get enough rest, then what are you waiting for? Make this the first night in your new effort to get a full night’s sleep. You have nothing to lose, and extra Zzzzz’s to gain!
Freelance author Becky James-Muth is sometimes guilty of not getting enough rest, but she always tries to make up for it by sleeping in or getting a nap the next morning. She and her husband, a career firefighter, try to stay on a regular schedule not only for their own health but also to set a good example for their two teenage sons. She uses websites like http://www.ageless-beauty.com/ as a resource for keeping her skin looking young and fresh. When she isn’t working or spending time with her family, Becky enjoys meeting with a local reading group at her town’s tavern bookstore, knitting scarves for local cold weather centers, and watching movies starring classic Hollywood icons such as Cary Grant and Doris Day.