Sleep Problems? This is why sleep is important!
So many people have “sleep problems” these days, whether the cause is due to their own sleep issues, or due to their children’s poor sleep. Many times, parents are told to tough it out until their child learns to sleep on their own. Newborns are notorious for poor sleep, but working on improving their sleep environment, routine, and habits can set up up on the path to solid sleep. After a baby reaches 6 months of age, there are many options available to parents to ensure that both they and their baby are getting the sleep their bodies need.
We all know how great we feel after a solid stretch of sleep, but why do we feel so fantastic?
This is what happens when we sleep:
- The slowing of blood flow allows for the growth and repair of tissues.
- The human growth hormone (HGH) is released at higher levels during stage 3 sleep (our deepest sleep). This is especially crucial for children and babies.
- Cortisol levels decrease in the early parts of the night and increase closer to wake up time. This helps increase our feelings of alertness after we arise.
- Our immune system receives a much-needed boost when our body and brain takes a break.
Have you ever noticed that sickness sets in when you have missed some sleep and have allowed yourself to become run down?
- Our feelings of hunger and fullness are much better regulated when we sleep. Our brains are better able to regulate the levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin while we sleep which means less desire to overeat and less weight gain! (1)
- By giving our body’s heart and vascular system an opportunity to rest, our risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and obesity are lowered.
- As suggested in a recent mouse study, our glymphatic system (aka. our brain’s waste-flushing system) is almost 10 times more active during sleep than when we are awake. (2)
- Our brain cells actually shrink in size by 60% during slumber allowing for more efficient waste removal. (3)
- As if this wasn’t enough, after a rest and brain cleaning period, we end up with clearer thinking, sharper decision making, and a better memory! (4)
How much sleep do I need?
An adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night, although some people need more. We all know those individuals who swear they need only 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night. Some people may function on less sleep, but this does not mean they are functioning optimally on less sleep. And of course there are those who need more than 8 hours of sleep. Your clues to discovering your magical number lie in how you feel throughout the day.
Do you wake up exhausted and find it hard to get moving?
You may need more sleep or you may need to adjust your sleep/wake times to find a pattern that works better with your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Doesn’t this make you want to go to bed early tonight?
Stay tuned for my next post:
How much sleep does my child need?
Are you experiencing any sleep problems? Do your children sleep well?
I’d love to hear how you ensure you catch enough zzzz’s!
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Your first fifteen-minute consultation is FREE!