The Zzzzzs Have It

Sleeping Baby

Sleeping Baby

We hear it all the time. Make sure you get enough sleep. But so many of us don’t follow this advice and most often, it is not because we are not aware of how much sleep we should get. It is because we don’t pay enough credence to the warning about how important proper sleep truly is.

Fact: The way we feel during the waking hours throughout our day depends on how well we sleep at night. Getting the right amount of sleep is essential for energy, health, productivity and emotional balance. And yet, we still don’t do what we need to do to assure that we get enough sleep. Even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, and ability to handle stress. There is no other activity that we have that provides so many benefits for so little effort. Improving the quality of our resting time improves the quality of life that we have. It is that important!

One of the myths about sleep is that most people believe if they get extra sleep at night, it can help them with excessive daytime fatigue. However, these people are more than likely placing too much emphasis on the quantity of sleep they get and not enough emphasis on the quality of sleep. The truth is that the quality of sleep is at least as significant, maybe even more so. Getting eight or nine hours of sleep but not feeling rested upon waking due to poor sleep quality, is of no benefit.

Sleeping Kitty

Sleeping Kitty

Most of us also believe if we only lose a single hour of sleep per night, it won’t make much difference in our ability to function during the day, but this is also false. Many people won’t noticeably feel much sleepier during the day if they only lose one hour of sleep at night, but over time, it impacts our ability to respond quickly and think properly. It also impacts cardiovascular health, energy balance, and the ability to fight infections.

It also is not entirely true that we can make up for lost sleep during the week on weekends. There is some relief provided by increasing sleep this way, but it does not completely make up for the loss of sleep. This type of routine will disturb your sleep-wake cycle, making it more difficult to go to sleep at the right time when the weekend is over and getting up early when Monday mornings come.

If you’re a jet-setter and you travel across time zones frequently, the truth is it can take your body more than a week to adjust to the changes. Most people can reset their biological clocks, but only by an hour or two per day.

The Star Trek Enterprise

The Star Trek Enterprise

I’m not a super psy-fi type of gal myself, but almost every guy I’ve ever known is a Trekkie with a capital T. I remember one episode in which the entire crew was not able to sleep (I can’t remember why). As the days increased in which the crew did not sleep, the troubles increased proportionately. Relationships suffered, production decreased, physically people began to get sick, and eventually the ability to tell the difference between reality and imagination blurred, creating total chaos.

If you are an adult over the age of 18, it is recommended that you get between seven and nine hours of quality sleep per night. I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Try and commit to that over the next week (if you don’t already) and see if you feel as if your life is more balanced and joyful.

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!


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