Baby Yourself – Let’s Start with Sleep

By: Jill Schneider

[tag]Sleep[/tag] is essential to our ability to function in our everyday life which has much to do with our happiness. No matter what mental, physical, and emotional problems you have in your life, they will be worsened by exhaustion. It’s impossible to be [tag]happy[/tag] when you are overwhelmed, anxious and short-tempered….all extensions of sleep deprivation. In my work with women who come to me in this condition, they are hardly even breathing. So there goes any oxygen that could be helping their brain to function.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), almost two thirds of women — many of them mothers — have insomnia, meaning that they have difficulty falling or staying asleep. The only time in my life that I really didn’t sleep enough was when my son was a baby. He woke up five times per night, needing to nurse. That went on for two years. Desperate to find out if there was anything that I could do, the women of La Leche League promised me that after two years, things would improve. They did. Almost thirty years later, I’m a good sleeper and I do realize its importance. I just read or meditate for ten minutes and I’m out like a light.

William C. Dement, MD, PhD, the Dean of Sleep Disorders Research and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, states: “Americans have gotten the message that good nutrition and plenty of exercise are important for health, but we have not paid enough attention to the third pillar of good health, which is adequate sleep.”

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.

4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.

5. Cardiovascular health:
Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.

6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Guidelines for better sleep from the American Insomnia Association.

  • Maintain a regular wake time, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Try to go to bed only when you are drowsy. Use your bedroom only for sleep, massage and sex.
  • Avoid napping during the daytime.
  • Establish a relaxing pre-sleep ritual such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or ten minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Mild exercise should not be done within 4 hours of bedtime while vigorous exercise should not be done within 6 hours of bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep the inner clock running smoothly.
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime, but a light snack can help promote sound sleep.
  • Avoid ingestion of caffeine within six hours of bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening. Even a small dose of alcohol can produce dangerous levels of sleepiness if ingested when drowsy.
  • Avoid the use of nicotine close to bedtime or during the night.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking sleep medication, sedatives or other medicines that may interact with alcohol.

About the Author:
Jill Schneider is a wellness teacher in Delray, Florida, www.circle-of-life.net. Jill is also on the leadership panel for Mommy Mentors’ Mom’s Business Mastermind Group, www.mommymentors.com/. Mommy Mentors is a resource for all mothers to find support, inspiration and information, both in business and life.

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