“Let me sleep on it…”
“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications early 2015
Sleep. Nectar from Hypnos.
- 100,000 accidents in the USA are annually attributed to micro-sleeping at the wheel, from which many people do not walk away.
Living things take a rest. Plants fold their leaves and flowers for the night – unless they are nocturnal. Birds tuck their heads under their wings – unless they are night-time birds of prey.
People need sleep to refresh, restore, and regroup their bodies. It is essential for health and wellbeing. A multitude of sleep disorders, however, result in more than half of the population suffering sleep deficits several nights a week. This leads to daytime sleepiness at work and on the road – a dangerous situation if ever there was one.
Though our bodies vary, six to eight hours’ sleep per night is generally enough to get body and mind prepared for the next day.
Rest, through sleep, is a big healer. It repairs the body – in sickness and in health – and consolidates our sub-conscience and memory whilst re-energizing our body cells.
On the other hand, lack of sleep suppresses immunity which may lead to cardiovascular issues and even Type 2 diabetes amongst others. There is further proof that those who have less than 5 hours’ sleep during a 24 hour period, have a 50% chance of being obese.
Melatonin – a chemical that is found in animals, plants and microbes – forms part of the system that regulates our sleep-wake cycle by causing drowsiness and lowering body temperature as we prepare for bed. It also interacts with our immune system and is said to be an effective preventative treatment for migraine and cluster headaches.
Night-time bright lights and physical activity interfere with its production and function.
As with most things, a mixture of myths and truths co-exist, two of which are:
- Myth-1: I am ok, fully awake and capable after 5 hours’ sleep.
- Truth-1: A sleep deficit affects you in more aspects than one – physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually – and impairs your judgment.
- Myth-2: You sleep away a large part of your life.
- Truth-2: Your body is doing much needed maintenance while you sleep, which allows you to enjoy a better quality of life during your waking hours.
Sleep deprivation infringes and impacts on social skills, often causing people to be more easily offended, leading to increased impulsiveness and aggressiveness.
Hence a good night’s sleep is a much needed antidote, sometimes a remedy, perchance even a lifesaver – especially on roads, and in the air. Ask yourself if you would want your pilot to have only 5 hours or less of sleep before a long flight?
Preparing for bedtime and sleep is very important.
Sleep scientists advise that the half hour before we go to bed needs to follow a pattern of “cycling down” in terms of mental and physical activity in a less intense light setting. It normally takes 30 minutes to go to sleep but bright lights – such as a laptop or mobile phone screen – delay falling asleep for up to 90 minutes.
Mentally replay the good things that happened during your day and close it off with meditation or prayer. Do not spend this period doing last minute emails or reading news. In contrast, reading an inspirational book reaps better sleep-time rewards.
Sleep allows the sub-conscience to sort through your day’s experiences and rework them – which is extremely important from an emotional perspective. We have all heard the expression “I will sleep on it” – which more often than not leads to better judgment calls the next day.
Studies show that those in their teens who go to bed before 10 p.m. are less depressed and less likely to consider suicide than those who stay up till after midnight.
A good sleep often enhances creativity which may lead to novel solutions for complex problems.
From all perspectives, your body and mind is the environment within which you live. Treat it well and it will return the favour.
For the religious among us, God – in His almighty wisdom – entrusted you with stewardship of the temple within which you live and love. God also separated day and night, one for work and the other to rest, rebuild and renew spirit, mind and body for tomorrow’s journey.
Respect the responsibility you have been given and the benefits bestowed.
- Sleep is essential for your health and all-round wellbeing.
- Sleep deprivation infringes and impacts on social skills,
- People generally need 6-8 hours’ sleep per night to sort out mind and body for the next day.
- Sleep deficit often leads to both poor memory and poor judgment.
- A good sleep enhances creativity.
- Your body and mind is the temple and castle within which you live and love.
- Indulge in enough restorative sleep.
- Relive the good things and plusses in your day as you prepare to sleep. Meditate. Pray.
- Do not invade your night with too much light.
- At times you may need to “sleep on it” to make better judgment calls.
- Enhance your creativity by taking time out to rest enough.
- Treat your body well and it will return the favor.