What if I offered you a new treatment that would protect you against aging, chronic diseases, cancer, and dementia. You would ward off your kids’ colds or superbugs. What if this new treatment would make you feel more alive and attractive. Help you lose weight and lower cravings for sugary treats. You would feel more joyous and less depressed or anxious.
What if I also told you it wouldn’t cost you a dime! Would you call B.S.?
I am a skeptic, so I would probably throw the B.S. flag if a drug offered all those things but the awesome thing is we don’t have to pop any pills…we just have to SLEEP more.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sleep, sleep deprivation sharply declines after having a child (no surprise there) but also up to 6 years after having a little babe. So, the bad news is you may not be getting the right amount of sleep until your child is a 1st grader, GREAT! I always like to highlight “super-mom” to my husband, so I did mention to him that the study also revealed that women slept 62 minutes less compared to their significant other which was only 13 minutes of less sleep per night. Another highlight from the study is: age, household income, and dual vs. single parenting were unrelated or only very weakly related to improved sleep. So, sleep deprivation does not discriminate.
You have had a long, sleep-deprived week, and your husband offered to get up with the kids Saturday morning so you can “catch up” on your sleep. Side note: Does this actually ever happen? Even though this is a nice gesture, unfortunately, sleep is not like a bank. You can’t pay down on your sleep after suffering a poor nights’ rest just days before. Yes, you may make up the hours you missed but you will never recover the sleep benefits that would have “occurred” in those lost hours.
It is never that easy folks! The current class of sleeping medication on the market is what they refer to as a sedative hypnotic. The make-up of these sedatives does not produce naturalistic sleep; therefore, you are not getting the natural restorative benefits of sleep. (This is also true with pain medication)
With everyone smoking dope these days, I must add that it has similar effects as alcohol on sleep and it isn’t a good one. Alcohol is also considered a sedative drug and what you’re doing is basically just knocking yourself out and not promoting naturalistic sleep. Additionally, alcohol fragments sleep, meaning you wake up several times throughout the sleep cycle (even though you may not remember it). It also has a way of blocking your REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. REM sleep is important/critical for aspects of mental health and emotional restitution.
Stop wearing this as a badge of honor. I hate to burst your bubble but research is showing that NO ONE can live with <6 hours of sleep without impairments. Our bodies cannot recognize sleep deprivation when they are sleep deprived.
There are two things in our brain that control our sleep, one being Circadian rhythms and the second being sleep pressure. A chemical within our brain called adenosine is building up in our brain as the day trudges on. When adenosine rises, it turns down the volume of wake areas in our brain and turns up the volume on sleep-inducing regions. Caffeine however works by battling adenosine for its receptor sites and tricks you into feeling awake and alert. The problem with this is caffeine spends a long time in our bodies, about 5-7 hours. All while adenosine continues to rise leading to a major caffeine crash when caffeine finally gives it up!
Research supports that adults need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep (more for kids). A study performed in Teton County, WY looked at high school aged kids and found that just by changing the school start time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. decreased car accidents among this age group by 70 percent! In fact, numerous studies have supported that <5 hours of sleep increase your chances of getting in a car accident 5-fold.
It’s not just how many hours you sleep but also the quality of your sleep. It is HIGHLY recommended to have >85% sleep quality. You calculate this number by taking:
Total Time Slept – The time it takes to fall asleep – Time awake throughout the night / Total time slept = Percentage slept
If you have to get up at 6:00 a.m., count backwards 8 hours and that is the time you should go to sleep…for all of you not good with numbers the answer is 10:00 p.m.
If you do nap, keep it to 30 minutes’ max (who honestly has time for naps when you have children)
If you can’t fall asleep don’t stress, just get up and go read for a little while until you feel sleepy.
Your brain is VERY smart…if you have a habit of working in bed with your computer, like I do, your brain will start associating bed with work not sleep.
Don’t even tiptoe the line!
Your body is getting ready to rest, so don’t make it digest a bunch of food before bedtime