Have you ever thought about the names of the 7 dwarfs? Seems like the progression of one’s moods after a bad nights sleep. We start out Happy; don’t get enough rest and wake up Sleepy; go to work Grumpy; from lack of rest we get sick and Sneezy; wanna be left alone and become Bashful; end up having to go see the Doc. Why is it Snow White seems to be the only one getting any rest around here!
Over 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia, few realizing how debilitating sleep deprivation can be. An estimated 63 billion yearly is lost in productivity in the U.S. from inadequate rest. Insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep 3 nights per week and experiencing one or more of these symptoms: difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early, frequently waking, or not feeling rested when you wake. Average adults need slightly more than 8 hours of sleep per day. Only an estimated 35% of American adults get this amount of rest.
Even a reduction in sleep as little as 1.5 hours can cause daily alertness to decrease by 32%. The National Highway Safety Administration reports each year “drowsy driving” causes at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths costing nearly 12.5 billion in damages.
Studies published by the Journal of Circulation show insomnia sufferers have a 27-45% higher risk of heart attack. The University of Rochester Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Lab found in two studies insomnia not only predisposes and individual to depression, but also dulls depression treatments and serves as a barrier to remission.
Each of us have an internal clock, known as our body’s circadian rhythm, controlling when we release and produce certain hormones, sleep, body temperature, as well as other functions. If your internal clock is disrupted insomnia will almost inevitably ensue.
If you feel you may be suffering from insomnia make time to exercise regularly. Exercise can help shift your body’s clock, getting your circadian rhythm back on track. Be careful not to exercise close to bedtime, which in some cases can disrupt sleep patterns.
Be sure to limit caffeine, cigarettes, chocolate, or any other stimulants or stimulating behaviors before bedtime. Meditate, sit quietly, or practice deep breathing before bed; or any other activity that helps soothe and calm (like listening to soothing music). Studies have shown our mental state at lights out determines the amount of stress hormone, cortisol, present in the blood stream the following morning. So-no worries at bedtime!
Use body oils with pleasing scents such as jasmine (shown to increase relax and calming feelings) to lubricate joints and improve circulation, peaceful feelings and calm; or try rubbing body oil over your body 30 minutes before shower time. Also try not to go to bed too late. Studies have found falling asleep after 10 pm decreases the quality of sleep and the feeling of being refreshed when you wake.
With enough sleep before you know it you’ll be singing just like the dwarves and whistling while you work. Remember for healthy living rest is best!
~Beth Harris, CSCS, HFS