Sleep! It is the great mystery that we cannot fully comprehend. When considering evolution, sleep is something we should have left by the wayside a few thousand years ago. Ever wonder how when falling into a close to unconscious state for several hours of our day, being left vulnerable to the dangers of the early civilization days, we have survived this long as a species?
Considering all of that, it shows how vital sleep is to our well-being and overall health. If it was not so needed, the people who need less sleep would have risen to the top of the gene pool many, many years ago. The scientific community still can’t explain exactly why we sleep, but researchers, along with new mothers, can tell you adequate sleep is good for you in more than one way.
With a lack of sleep comes short tempers and irritability. The University of Pennsylvania did research that showed individuals who experience even partial sleep deprivation reported feeling stress, sadness, anger, and mental exhaustion. The exact reason for this is a bit of a mystery, but some scientists have thought that sleep deprivation stimulates activity in the amygdala. The amygdala, an almond-shaped mass of matter in the brain, is responsible for feelings of fear, anger, and a host of other emotions. When these feelings become “amped-up,” we sense hostility or stress toward others, which is probably why you acted out to a co-worker or a family member when asked simply how your weekend was.
Have you ever had a hard time concentrating and focusing when you are running on too little sleep? Absorbing information is only a third of the battle. Memory and learning are divided into three separate functions: Recall, consolidation, and acquisition. It can be explained as, you need to receive the data, then you stabilize the memory of it, and then finally, you need to be able to access the data when the need arises.
Acquisition and recall happen when you are awake and conscious. Consolidation occurs while you are sleeping through the “strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories.” When all of the information is put together it proves, adequate sleep every day is an integral part of learning and memory.
Without sleep, even though you are focusing on what you are learning, and you are acquiring the information, the data won’t be stored correctly in the brain, and when you need to access it, you will draw a blank. For kids, learning is their primary duty, so when considering how much their brain needs to retain, the significance of healthy sleep habits is not overstated.
Getting enough sleep plays a large part of emotional well-being and learning, but are there more tangible benefits? Besides breathing and eating, you will not find anything with more health benefits than getting the required amount of sleep.
Individuals who get between seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis will see drastically lower rates of high blood pressure, obesity, infections, stroke, depression, inflammation, diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, heart disease, and heart failure. They also claim better performance at work, higher satisfaction with their sex lives, and have fewer sick days than those who generally get only seven hours of sleep a night.
So, there is no doubt that healthy sleep, even though it is a mystery, is absolutely an essential part of a happy, healthy lifestyle.
And then the baby is born! You are told by friends and family you are getting ready to sacrifice your sleep so you can tend to baby for the next few years. This is one myth you need to put an end to immediately! Remember, your baby needs more sleep than you do. While your sweet bundle of joy is sleeping, there is an absolute fury of activity going on in that little body. Cytokines are being produced to fight off infections, growth hormones are given off to aid in weight gain, and many more intricate systems are working to lay the foundation for growth and development. All of these things require a lot of sleep for your little one.
If you have someone tell you, you should expect your baby to wake up six or seven times a night, please tell them they are wrong! If your baby does wake that many times in a night, there is a health issue that needs a remedy one is available. So if you are a new mother, do not accept the idea of sleep as a luxurious commodity that you will be without for a few years. If your baby is not sleeping, address it. The benefits are abundant!
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Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep! My mission is to give you and your baby the sleep you need to enjoy the health benefits that come with proper rest. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.