SLEEP & REST “WHY IT IS IMPORTANT “

By Steve McKinney

According to an article in the premiere issue of the NFPT REVIEW, sleep is very important, they write:

One of the most inherent values of sleep is the concurrent breakdown of toxins in the cerebral spinal fluid that accumulate during waking hours. After 48 hours of sleep deprivation, test subjects have been found to display a significant long and short-term memory loss, and a reduction in their ability to reason and communicate effectively. All of these symptoms have been attributed in part to this build up of toxins in the cerebral spinal fluid during waking hours. It is also interesting to note that the rate of toxin build up in the cerebral spinal fluid is unique from individual to individual thus explaining the reason why some people can function effectively on less sleep than others.

What exactly does that mean to us? Well, one thing it means is, we need to get enough sleep. You see, in our society we are pushed to the limits of our abilities on a daily basis. We need to work more hours and get less rest in order to “make ends meet”. This mentality, however, can cause us to function at much lower levels than where we should be. I understand the above quote as saying, if I don’t get enough sleep I am not going to function at near the capacity that I am potentially able. If I reduce my sleep to one hour less per night and that toxin build up is not completely removed, it will then accumulate. Over a period of time it will accumulate to levels that cause me to have short-term memory loss, poor communication skills and less ability to reason. That is not how I want to function in my daily personal and business activities.

Sleep also restores our body’s energy supplies that we have used up during the course of our day. Some people require more sleep than others based on the amount and type of work they do. If you labor intensely you will require more sleep than someone who does mental work. Some people simply require more sleep than others. Teenagers, because of the hormonal changes that are going on in their bodies, require much more sleep than they did when they were children.

There are people who have trouble sleeping. This can include inability to fall asleep or stay sleeping for more than a few hours. Let me give you some things that could be causing sleep problems:

  • Caffeine–Too much caffeine during the course of the day can affect a sound nights sleep. I personally had to reduce my caffeine intake drastically after I turned 40. I may have a cup of coffee before my workout but I never drink it on a daily basis. I don’t know why it was around that time of my life these changes needed to occur, it might have been hormone related. I do know that my sleep was affected and the subsequent reduction of caffeine made the difference. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can also affect your sleep. Caffeine consumption comes in more forms than just coffee, it is found in sodas, both diet and regular, it is found in chocolate and teas, both herbal and regular. A word of caution, dropping your caffeine intake can result in severe headaches. This is due to the blood flow restriction from lack of caffeine. It should go away in about 3-7 days.
  • Stress–Stress debilitates your health, it’s that simple. Stress can take many forms: work, relationships, parenting, etc. You’re always going to have stress in your life, the key is, to control the amount that you have and to learn how to deal with it.
  • Alcohol–Alcohol consumption reduces your ability to sleep deeply. It also can attribute to sleep apnea because it relaxes the upper airway muscles. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that can cause people to awaken numerous times during the course of a night. (An interesting aside about one client of mine and sleep apnea. When this client started coming to me he weighed 265 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea. He began to exercise and lost 60 pounds while gaining some muscle. His sleep apnea went away! The sad thing is he stopped exercising, regained all the weight and lost muscle size. Guess what happened next? The sleep apnea returned.)

Now let me give you some pointers on getting a sound night sleep:

  • Develop a sleep pattern–Try to get to bed at the same time every night. Your body thrives on regularity. I know some people who have such a good sleep pattern that they don’t need an alarm clock to wake them.
  • Keep your sleeping room free from distractions–Having your room dark and quiet will help insure a deep, sound sleep. If you sleep with the T.V. on, as some people do, your sleep will be affected.
  • Get up–If you find yourself tossing and turning, it may be a good idea to get up and take a hot shower or read a book. When I toss and turn I find that I end up getting more frustrated and add to my inability to sleep.
  • Use supplements if necessary–If you have trouble sleeping you can use some natural alternatives to help you get to sleep. Check with your local health food store for natural sleep aids.

A point of interest is that exercise can improve the quality of sleep. Proper exercise can relieve stress and allow you to get a good night sleep.

Another important aspect of your lifestyle change is rest. Taking some time to get away from the daily routine is essential for you to function at a high level of performance. When I talk about levels of performance I mean doing what you do in the best way you can, be it working or parenting and so on. The idea is simply for you to be the best you can be. So resting on a regular basis every day can help you.

A lot of clients of mine do not take a lunch break; they just work and eat at their desk. It is so important not to do that. You need to get away from your work area and let your mind rest. This goes for every person reading this article. Take a short break away from your work once or twice per day if it is possible. I personally schedule a 5-10 nap in the middle of the day. This keeps me feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. My wife does not like the short naps but prefers longer ones. Unfortunately she is not always afforded this luxury with work schedules and such. She does occasionally get a chance to get a break in her day, which she finds helpful as most of us do.

Sleep and rest, most of us don’t get enough, some of us get too much but that is rare. Just find a happy balance for yourself and make it part of your lifestyle. If you ignore these important aspects of your life it can lead to undue stress! Go to bed an hour earlier than usual. Stop burning the candle at both ends. You will find that you feel better and your attitude will be brighter!

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Steve McKinney for this weeks article. For more info on Steve, click on his name at the top of this asrticle.

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