Sleep is the best thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day. Research shows that the shorter you sleep the shorter you live. Finding good sleep is possible...
My work with clients often involves focusing on sleep routines. About half of the clients I see struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep or light sleep. I share my own sleep story with clients. In high school and college I napped for an hour midday, and this was after sleeping 9-10 hours at night! As an intern in graduate school I did neurofeedback training. Within 7 sessions I quit naps and woke up in the mornings feeling refreshed. To this day I am so thankful for how neurofeedback training has improved my quality of sleep! Follow the guidelines at the end of the article for finding good sleep if you are having trouble with sleep or want to feel alert and fresh each day. Consider neurofeedback training if you have tried these tips and still struggle with getting enough good sleep.
KIDS AND TEENS
We are learning more about the role of sleep in children’s development. Deep sleep may be a driving force of brain maturation, not the other way around. Consider protecting teen's sleep rather than labeling too much as a sign of laziness. Current research suggests that it may take months of regular sleep sleep to recover from sleep debt (don't expect teens to recover on the weekend!). Sleep is a memory aid before learning (to prepare your brain for making new memories). Sleep helps to cement those memories and prevent forgetting.
As we enter our 40’s the electrical quantity and quality of deep REM sleep reduces. Even though we wake more often as we get older, it is a myth that we need less sleep. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as they do in midlife, but are less able to get it.
Impact on our Concentration
Adults need more than 7 hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. Even a little slept debt reduces our ability to focus. We under-estimate how sleep-deprived we are when sleep-deprived.
Impact on our Emotions and Brain
Many emotional and psychiatric problems occur with sleep debt. Sleep loss causes devastating effects on the brain. Neurological and psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s and suicide. Treating some of these issues with sleep is sometimes helpful.
Impact on our Body
Twenty studies that tracked millions of people over many decades reported the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Heart attacks, chronic pain, stroke, obesity, diabetes, immune deficiency, and cancer relate to a chronic lack of sleep.
Most of us lose an hour of sleep during the daylight saving time switch in March. Hospital records show that this small sleep loss results in a frightening spike in heart attacks the following day. Rates of heart attacks reduced the day after the November switch (most of us sleep an hour more). The brain is as sensitive as the heart to a small amount of sleep loss - there is a similar rise and fall relationship that happens with traffic accidents.
Do Sleeping Medications help?
No sleep medications on the legal (or illegal) market induce natural sleep. Researchers looked at the use of sleeping pills and mortality over a 2 1/2 year period. They found that heavy users (taking more than 132 sleeping pills per year) were 5.3 times more likely to die. over the study period than matched control non-users. Occasional users (taking only 18 sleeping pills per year) were 3.6 times more likely to die during the 2 1/2 year study.
Can Naps or Caffeine Help?
Power naps can increase concentration for a little while when you are sleep deprived (as can caffeine, up to a certain dose). Naps and caffeine can't fix more complex brain functions like learning, memory and emotional stabilty.
Find Good Sleep