“Our enemy is inside our head. Overdoing, overthinking, pushing too hard, setting new limits, trying to prove we can do it all…”
Sleeping Does What? Come Again!?
by Erinda Kosturi
Over the time, our sleep patterns have changed a lot. This, from a anthropological point of view and mostly now days because of lifestyle balance lack.
Different parts of the world have different sleep patterns. The environment itself but also traditions and cultural values, have a great impact on how sleep is perceived.
The industrialized countries, suffer the devastating effect of artificial light on the central nervous system, since the 19th Century. It’s likely that overall we sleep at least an hour less every night than it was a custom a century ago, and probably several hours less than before the industrialization and electricity.
Sleep onset, sleep phasis and sleep patterns have changed consistently. Prehistoric man and nomads, had in fact a very good sleeping pattern. They slept longer than us, had no external stimuli that could trigger disrupting patterns, had a combined cycle of being awake and asleep time after time, which was considered healthy.
Today, we enjoy all the commodities that industrialization and technology have provided for us, while we cut on things such as healthy diet, sleep, activity and so on.
We are overachievers trying to make the most out of our 24 hour a day “life span”.
Well, it is a small price to pay after all, isn’t it? Just a little tired and sleepy during the day, right? You’ll get used to it…
Sleep is as important as food and water, if not even more. Brain, never rests. It actually doesn’t sleep. Parts of it in fact are even more active during sleep than while we are awake.
Brain is able to clear toxins. A newly discovered drainage system called the glymphatic system, initiates its process and clearing out of the brain’s toxins ten times more during sleep than during the time we spend awake. A protein responsible for creating the amyloid plaque – an Alzheimer’s markers is recycled during sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation state, can lead to irreversible brain damage. Cognitive functions and alertness state can be impaired permanently. Short sleep cycles on the other hand, are also linked to shrinking brain.
Keep in mind that sleep deprivation extended in time, might affect memory, wakefulness, alert status by damaging directly a certain type of neurons called locus ceruleus.
Despite the information about the importance of sleep as not only a basic physiological cycle in our lives, but as a need of survival, a naturally occurring recyclable cure, teens, young adults but also seniors are paying always less and less attention to sleep patterns. In fact, sleep deprivation is now, considered from the CDC “epidemic” in the US.
How we choose to deal with this epidemic situation will reflect on our overall health.
The tips toward a better sleep are :
- Stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule. This will reset your internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep.
- Don’t try to make it up on the weekends. Opt for a daytime nap if you have overdone a day before, but try not to sleep long hours instead.
- Napping is a good recharging way, if you keep it 20 to 30 minutes, a power nap, not if you sleep for hours. This will prompt a later sleeping onset that same night.
- If you feel sleepy way before bed time, get active. Do something to keep yourself busy.
- Countries like Italy, Greece, Albania, France have been blessed by daylight. The sun shines through most of the year. Expose yourself to it. It will make you feel active. limit darkness in the work place, by keeping curtains and blinds opened and try to move your desk closer to the windows if you can.
- At night, light can interfere with sleep, by tricking your body to think it’s still day outside. Limit exposure to it, to the TV light, PC, cell phones and so on.
- Try to read something. E-readers can be tricky at this point, because of the background light. An old fashioned hard copy might do better
- When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. The darker the better.
- Try to cut a little on caffeine intake, specially in the afternoons.
- Stay away from heavy meals at night
- Avoid alcohol before bed as it interferes with your sleep cycle once you’re out
- If you feel opened enough, try some relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualizing techniques
- Most important of all, STAY OUT OF YOUR HEAD.
Our enemy is inside our head. Overdoing, overthinking, pushing too hard, setting new limits, trying to prove we can do it all…
Sleep tight… Don’t let the bugs bite !!!