Thursday, September 23, 2010

Project: Seven Hours of Sleep or More

“They sleep. We grind.” That’s a phrase I see tweeted often by Miss “FatBellyBella” aka Erykah Badu (usually as I’m doing my early morning timeline scroll). And I sometimes feel just a little bit guilty as I’m getting out of bed because I was indeed one of those who was sleeping. But then I remember that I’m just one of those people that needs rest. I currently average approximately 5-6 hours of sleep per night after squeezing in as many of the professional, parenting and personal tasks that I can cram into the other 18-19 hours of the day. I start out the week on Monday with a positive attitude, a big smile and my “to do” list tucked safely under my arm; and I find myself getting high off my level of productivity and accomplishment. However, by about Thursday I am tired, uninspired and quite honestly, wearing my cranky pants. I still get things done, but certainly with less enthusiasm and vigor as earlier in the week when my sleep cycle was just beginning. I also find that my body communicates pretty clearly when it wants a break. I carry exhaustion in my back, neck and shoulders. So what is the simple answer here? To get more rest.

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According to, “most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.” Here are some reasons why sleep is so important:*
1. Sleep Reduces Stress - When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body's functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep.

2. Sleep Bolsters Your Memory - Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

3. Sleep May Help You Lose Weight - Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. So if you are interested in controlling or losing weight, don't forget to pay attention to getting a good night's sleep.

4. Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression - Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

5. Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs - Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.


While this is not new research, nor is it a comprehensive list of the benefits of getting sufficient rest, it is a good reminder for us to allow ourselves the benefit of sleep, as it ultimately can refresh us and help us to better accomplish those daily goals. If we want to be at our best during the day, we have to remember to set ourselves up for the best with the combination of sleep, exercise and diet that is healthiest for our individual bodies.

To this end, I am recommitting myself (recommitting because I did this previously for about a month and then was back up to my old tricks) to getting 7 hours of sleep per night at the very least. It is my hope that this will help me to avoid oversleeping, allow the proper amount of time in the morning for me to prepare for the day, and aid me in being more punctual. What are some of the ways you organize your schedule to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep?


GG said...

we have to be reasonable about what we set out to do each day and make sleep a priority. If we really recognize it as important or atleast the benefits of it then we'll go to sleep. I know that I fool myself into thinking I don't need a that much sleep then I regret it in the morning. None of this matters for me right now though. I get to sleep when baby sleeps :)

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