Sleep is a wonderful thing

Ever elusive peaceful slumber.

When I decided to write about sleep, I was actually feeling a little sleep deprived. Not that I have any right to complain. I don’t fall into any typical sleep deprived categories; new parents, parents of teething babies, parents of sick children, parents in general, women going through menopause, shift worker, etc. I just seem to require a lot of sleep, more than seems normal; or so I thought, until I did some research on the subject of sleep, or lack thereof.

Did you know that over the past year, on the Michigan State University Extension website there are over 179 mentions on the topic of sleep? This leads me to think that either it is a really important topic, or I work with a surplus of sleepy people. Topics range from teen’s sleep needs, sleep as a way to help deal with chronic diseases, shift work, weight loss, children’s sleep, safe sleep for infants and even nightmares.

I was getting fatigued just trying to wrap my head around the myriad of mentions about sleep, I took my search a little broader, to see if it isn’t just a phenomenon. The National Sleep Foundation has a chart of how much sleep a person needs according to their age. Infants need the most, up to 18 hours a day, younger children need anywhere from 12 to 14 hours, teens need up to nine and adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. According to this chart, I should be good with seven to nine hours, and most of the time I am. However, I seem to be rejuvenated when I get 10 to 12 hours of slumber. This may be because, as they state, “Though research cannot pinpoint an exact amount of sleep needed by people at different ages, it's important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep.”

Sleep is important to your overall good health. A lot of things happen when you sleep. Your body is busy building and regenerating cells, your brain is making sense of all it took in that day and filing things away for future use. You have dreams or nightmares that help you process thoughts and emotions.

In addition, the list of effects of not getting enough sleep, called sleep deprivation, are enough to keep you up all night worrying. According to WebMD, there are at least 10 negative effects of sleep deprivation:

  1. Cause of accidents
  2. Dulls your thinking and learning
  3. Can lead to serious health problems
  4. Kills your sex drive
  5. Can contribute to depression
  6. More wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes
  7. Makes you forgetful
  8. Makes you gain weight
  9. Double your risk of death from all causes
  10. Impairs judgment

In conclusion, even though there isn’t a magic number, do your own research on how much sleep you need – then get it! It’s good for you. If you don’t get enough – it’s bad for you and practically everyone around you. To top it all off, sleep is free! It doesn’t cost a thing.

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