Do you have any idea what single activity we spend most of our life doing?
Yes, you got it, sleep! At 31 years old the average human has slept for an equivalence of 12 years or 105,362 hours! That’s insane! That’s almost half a lifetime that we’re in a bed!
We all know sleep is essential for us, we all know we need to rest in order to function. But is sleep simply how we restore our energy levels to be able to operate the following day?
Have you ever questioned how sleep affects our health and wellbeing?
Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to our life! I can speak from a firsthand experience of driving while very sleepy. My eyes would close on their own for seconds at a time, while on the road driving. I understand that the consequence of my eyes closing behind the wheel could be life or death, but I couldn’t control the weight of my eyes, so I had to pull over. Fortunately for me I am alive and well.
Millions of U.S drivers fall asleep behind the wheel every year. More than 6,000 die in drowsy related crashes. Leaving the conscious state and entering the subconscious part of the mind is clearly a necessity at all costs! But why do we humans need sleep?
The longest study conducted on over 70,000 humans over the course of 5 generations from the point of birth showed clear evidence that children who go to sleep at different times were more likely to have behavioral problems. Those who switched to having regular bedtimes often showed an improvement in behavior. Children who have routine bedtimes and sleep earlier are more successful later in life!
Ted Talk on the Longest Study on Human Development.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines sleep as “a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended”.
We know that not getting an adequate amount of sleep while operating a machine can be deadly, we know the long-term effects it can have on our children and their life, but what about our health?
According to the CDC most adults need at least 7hrs of sleep at night. However, one in three adults in the U.S today don’t get the recommend amount of sleep at night. One or two days of not sleeping well won’t kill you but research shows that inconsistent sleep can really affect our health.
I was mind blown that there is a direct correlation between not sleeping and the following…
- Memory Issues
- Mood Changes
- High Blood Pressure
- Weakened Immunity
- Risk for Diabetes
- Weight Gain
- Risk of Heart Disease
- Poor Balance
Stop ignoring all the signs. Next time you’re out bar hopping and clubbing and go straight to work on less than 2 hours of sleep think about the long term negative effects it can have. Oops did I say long term only? I meant the following day to! When the body screams at you with yawning and drowsiness don’t ignore.
I’ve heard people say that the soul travels when we sleep. But what really does happen?
There are 5 stages of sleep 1-4 and REM (Rapid eye movement). Let’s take a closer look…
Stage 1 sleep is light sleep. You can be easily woken up from this stage. Your eye movement and body movements slow down. You may experience sudden jerky movement of your legs and can give you the sensation of falling.
Between 45 and 55 percent of your time sleeping is spent in stage 2 sleep. During this stage, eye movement stops, and your brain waves become slower.
Stage 3 is the first stage of deep sleep. The brain waves are a combination of slow waves, known as delta waves, combined with faster waves. During stage 3 sleep it can be very difficult to wake someone up. If you are woken up during this stage, you may feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes.
Stage 4 sleep is the second stage of deep sleep. In this stage the brain is making the slow delta waves almost exclusively. In this stage it is also very difficult to wake someone up. Both stages of deep sleep are important for feeling refreshed in the morning. If these stages are too short, sleep will not feel satisfying.
REM Sleep- Rapid Eye Movement
REM sleep is the sleep stage in which dreaming occurs. When you enter REM sleep, your breathing becomes fast, irregular and shallow. Your eyes will move rapidly, and your muscles become immobile. Heart rate and blood pressure increase. Men may develop erections.
REM sleep is also the phase of sleep in which you dream. This sleep phase begins about 70 to 100 minutes after you fall asleep. The first sleep cycle has a shorter phase of REM sleep. Toward morning, the time spent in REM sleep increases and the deep sleep stages decrease.
Researchers do not fully understand REM sleep and dreaming. They know it is important in the creation of long-term memories.
It is truly fascinating how the body and mind connect. I became interested in this when I started using my Fit bit to bed and it started to give me data on my sleeping patterns and the stages I spent the most time in. On average my night sleeps look like this…
- Awake 11%
- REM 21%
- Light sleep 56%
- Deep sleep 12%
This is normally scored as Fair according to my fit bit app. Light sleep which is the stage we spend most of our night in is important. It promotes mental health and physical restoration.
We don’t need a fit bit to tell us all this detailed information, so long as we know that we are getting enough sleep. If you’re not, there are so many things you can do to help. And no, I don’t mean Melatonin or other over the counter drugs that make you dependent. There are many sleep disorders that do require medical attention, but if you just need to relax here are a few of my favorites…
- A nice warm cup of Chamomile tea before bed which has calming effects due to the abundance of antioxidants in the tea.
- A diffuser in your bedroom with essential oils such as Lavender oil used to calm and relax the mind and body, preparing you for sleep.
- CBD- Proven to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
Something that often gets overlooked is the mattress we lay our head on every night. I mean aren’t all beds made equally. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Uhm, No! Mattresses should be replaced every 10 years. Truth is that an old mattress or bad quality mattress is not only responsible for your lower back aches and stiff neck. But could also be responsible for an increase in stress levels like worrying, nervousness, irritability headaches and more!
Who would of thought that something we overlook like sleep has such an impact on our life! Its so essential to our current well-being, our safety and the not so far distant future. Our health is affected by every choice we make including sleep and beyond!
Miss Rehab Ramdass
Disclaimer: Miss Rehab Ramdass website, blog, social media and videos should not be construed as medical advice. Content from this site and blog are not intended to be used as a medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.