Well of course, a known form of torture is sleep deprivation. My mother suffered from insomnia. I don’t think I was that sympathetic as I really found it hard to believe it was possible not to sleep. I took sleep completely for granted.
I felt quite humbled when I suddenly found myself AWAKE when I should have been asleep, the house was quiet and I was lying there with chest pains. I really did think I had some sort of life threatening disease. It was only when I finally went to the doctor with my catalogue of woes, that he said hmmm, “How old are you? I think you need to see a gynecologist.”
When I saw him he was quite merry as he duly informed me that insomnia was a hormonal issue and a common one as woman aged and their hormones changed.
I was absolutely horrified
That was three years ago and many tablets later I am drug – free. Since March 2016. Well except for vitamin C and magnesium and holy basil in the evening.
So for three years I was guzzling an increasing amount of this that and the other to get to sleep, stay asleep and then to wake up enough to get through the day.
I always knew that sleep was important
I think most of us do. BUT what I DIDN’T know was HOW important it was and how it actually shortens your life if you don’t get enough.
Dr Pedram Shojai of The Urban Monk tells us that “insomnia is running rampant in the western world. Sources estimate that at least one third of the adults in the United States suffer with it at least twice a week.
That’s epidemic proportions.
We’re talking tens of millions of people. We forget the best tool we have to fight fatigue is sleep. When we get enough sleep, it’s easier to manage stress, easier to be active, and easier to make good decisions with regards to our food…”
In recent years, sleep has been labelled the third pillar of good health, along with diet and exercise, says Matt Walker at the University of California, Berkeley. But that’s underselling it: sleep is the foundation on which these two other pillars rest.
“There is no tissue within the body and no process within the brain that is not enhanced by sleep, or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough” Matt Walker
Dr Sarah Ballantyne reiterates what Pedram says that 40% of Americans are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, leaving a significant sleep deficit that is never resolved.
From what we know about how lack of sleep affects our brains, hormones, and immune system, this may be the single greatest contributor to chronic illness in general. This means that if you consistently don’t get enough sleep, you have a much higher risk of getting sick and/or dying. It tends to be that where American trends go, the rest of the world follows.
Dr Tami explains that obesity and difficulty losing weight is also linked to sleep deprivation.
You need to sleep more to weigh less
You are not fooling your body by getting by on less sleep. You need your cortisol to lower so that your growth hormone can kick in and do its work to repair and detoxify your brain and body.
Fortunately to quote Arianna Huffington, at least this is the golden age of sleep science. We are lucky to be around to learn HOW important sleep is for you and the damage it can do when you don’t get it.
So interesting. I certainly don’t take it for granted anymore. The advice is disarmingly simple BUT deceptively hard to follow through with in our modern life.
Do you get 8 hours a night? Any tips you can share?
The consequences of not getting enough sleep are huge. We certainly can’t go sorting out the planet if we are too tired to get through the day and have no spare energy.
More tomorrow on being awake at 2.30am… An old blog post which was very popular. A fun reminder of the old days!