The power of sleep…

Sleep, I have come to conclude is a good thing. I have known that for quite a long time, but it is reiterated in my mind as I move back into my 5:00 AM wake up norm. Over the semester break I stayed up later at night and then dismissed my alarm in the mornings. Many a day I slept until I woke up on my own. Indeed, one day it was almost 8:00 AM when I woke up – craziness, I tell you. But now I must get back to the earlier bed times to accommodate my early mornings as coffee with all its magical powers can only do so much – adequate sleep is a requisite.

Over a year ago now, 60 Minutes had a story about what happens to the brain and body when it is deprived of sleep. It was a fascinating piece and I strongly encourage everyone to watch it – you can find the video of Leslie Stahl’s report in two parts at http://usnorenomore.com/tag/sleep-deprivation/. I guarantee you that you will never look at sleep quite the same after that.

I have heard and read that sleep can be negatively affected in menopause…something to do with the whole hot flash thing waking you up. I have not experienced this, but I have heard from many women that they felt they were “losing their mind” during menopause. From these women I get that there is a sense that your mind goes a bit haywire in the area of focus, rationality, etc. Now, not being an expert on this, but as one who is always prone to hypothesize I am thinking a part of the problem of this “losing their mind” phenomenon is the sleep interruption piece.

I also wonder, with increasing regularity whether sleep deprivation plays any role in other health concerns such as Alzheimer’s disease, ADD, or autism. I am curious as to whether sleep deprivation is linked to criminal behavior or increased aggression. In truth, I have dozens of connections between sleep and maladies that I would like to test – if only I was either a researcher in that arena or a very wealthy supporter of research. What we will learn in the next decade or century about sleep that we don’t know now may change the face of health management as we know it – how exciting is that?

I have also heard that getting the proper amount of sleep is linked to weight. A lack of sleep can result in obesity (and it is not just because you are up longer and consume more calories in that additional hour or two). So, the proper amount of sleep helps your brain and body function better and you are less likely to be obese (less pounds just by sleeping- I love that).

Watch the 60 minutes piece and conduct your own clinical trials at home. Increase your sleep to eight hours a night and report back in a couple of months – are you thinking more clearly, performing at a higher level, experiencing better social relations with others and the $64,000 question – are you any thinner?

Can you imagine…what if the solution to some of our problems begins and ends with something as seemingly simple as sleep?  It makes me want to take a nap right now. :-)

Day one hundred and ninety-one of the new forty – obla di obla da

CC
 

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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