Sleep is not just vital for mental fitness but also to keep a healthy waistline.
Getting enough sleep is the next frontier to a healthy lifestyle. In Germany alone, close to 50% of survey respondents complained about sleeping problems, while one out of seven takes sleeping pills at times. Consumption of sleeping pills increased five-fold over the past two decades. The worldwide trends are even more alarming.
Good sleep is as important as good food, drink and exercise. It influences creativity, performance, quality of life, and relationships. As Jürgen Zulley, Professor at the University of Regensburg puts it:” Too little sleep makes you fat, dumb and sick.”
Even worse: a recent study conducted by universities in Chicago and Brussels revealed that sleep deprivation alters brain chemicals in such way that the non-sleeper are unable to resist midnight snacking, which in turn leads to weigh gain, less sleep and more snacking, a vicious cycle.
It starts in middle school, continues at college and stretches across most of the adult working life: our modern day schedules are too full, consume content of too many media, engage online in too many social networking, and are stressed by ever increasing demands by employers, family and friends.
Due to stress, clutter and distractions we can’t fall asleep, wake up too often, and don’t sleep the hours we need. The result in many people: crankiness, sadness, overeating, depression, burn-out.
The solution does not require sleeping pills, drugs or alcohol: sleep awareness and mental training are an inexpensive, first start. Here are some interesting facts and factoids:
- Sleep happens in four phases: a) falling asleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and dream sleep (also called REM or rapid eye movement sleep).
- According to research of the University of Regensburg, the normal sleeper wakes up on average 28 times a night, most times immediately forgetting the incident.
- What you think after waking up makes all the difference between good and bad sleep. Imagine some pleasant moments or simply tell yourself that you don’t have to get up and still have time for a good sleep. These auto-suggestive methods likely make you fall right back to deep or dream sleep.
- Why do we and most other animal have to sleep? – a question that occupies the minds of researchers worldwide these days. What is known so far: sleep de-clutters the brain, reduces synaptic connections and strengthen those that are important, makes you able to learn and absorb more information. Thoughts, feelings and memories are re-ordered to make sense the next day.
- Another vital role of sleep: to regulate the “metabolic brain” which influences the immune system and metabolism. Chronic sleeping disorder is one of the reasons for obesity, frequent sickness, and depression
- Sleep builds memory and enables creativity (most associations and insights from what you learned during the days are made while you sleep). Thus you can adapt to changing environmental changes and impacts
In other words: sleep dopes your brain, builds consciousness and mental performance. That why we recommend to take sleep serious in 2012. Here are some essential preconditions:
- Your bedroom needs to be quiet and dark. If you have to choose: silence is better than fresh air from an open window;
- Set your thermostat so that you don’t freeze or sweat;
- Silence is better than open windows.
- Choose a mattress that is not too hard, just right for your weight;
- If your bed partner snores and disturbs your sleep, choose separate bedrooms over lack of sleep, anger and frustration;
- Don’t go to bed straight from working on your computer. Give it at least a 20 -minute intermission;
- If you can’t sleep, do something relaxing, like reading, ironing, putting stuff away;
- Overcome your fear of not being able to fall back to sleep, like any other fear can be overcome;
- Take sleeping pills like headache pills: only occasionally.
This blog summarizes an article in Der Spiegel (Issue 44/2011) and