Sleep is one of the best things that happens to me on a daily basis. I really enjoy sleeping. I guess working all those different shifts for so many years as a nurse, I now appreciate that I can go to sleep at the same time every night. Rotating shifts can drain you, make you feel like a barely functional zombie and screw up any sleep cycle you ever possessed. When I was much younger I suffered from a period of extreme insomnia. I have to say, I would much rather be disemboweled than suffer from sleep-deprivation, it was truly awful.
Now that I can sleep on regular basis, I am quite a happy person. I think the average person takes sleep for granted, and that is a real shame. I found a chart on the National Sleep Foundation website on the number of hours of sleep recommended for each age group. It turns out I should be getting about 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but I suspect I don’t get more than 6 hours routinely. I always say when I get up in the morning – I’m going to go to bed earlier tonight, this is while I am making my bed, thinking how nice it would be to get back into it.
The National Sleep Foundation says you should go to bed the same time every night so as not to mess with the routine (even on the weekends). This is hard to do, because it so nice to really putter around all evening on the weekend, reading blogs, goofing around, and going to late movies. In fact I have posted one of my A to Z Challenge posts at say 1:00 in the morning and someone responded right away (not mentioning names, but person with blue streaks in your hair – you know who you are). Which makes me think there are many bloggers not sticking to their sleeping routine, if indeed they have a sleep routine.
The Sleep Foundation also mentions it is important to pay attention to your bed and make it the comfiest bed ever (well, they didn’t say the comfiest part, that is my addition). Now I have taken this piece of information to heart. I think, of course the mattress has to be luscious, not too hard, not too soft (kind of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears) – just right. One must invest in a super plush mattress pad – not only does it protect the mattress but it provides a nice cushioned layer between you and the mattress. Then on top of that one must have cotton sheets, good cotton sheets (no percale – makes one sweat). Blankets are very important too. They have to be the right weight and thickness, and need to be layered so one can titrate coolness or warmth – depending on the time of year. To top it off, pillows are very, very important and I think it is imperative to have more than two. I like five pillows, two firm, two soft and one that can be kind of squished.
Now the National Sleep Foundation says that one shouldn’t take naps. I have to disagree with them on this point. My most energetic time is probably from about 7 in the morning until about 2 in the afternoon, then I slow down to a screeching halt. If I had my way, I would take an hour nap every day from 2 to 3 and be right as rain for the rest of the afternoon and evening. While working on this post I found some interesting information on naps (anything to support my reason for napping is okay by me). According to Psychology Today – naps can actually take information stored in the short-term memory and put into a permanent memory. Naps lasting from 45-60 minutes “produces a five-fold improvement of information retrieval from memory.” (Psychology Today). Do you need any more reason than that to slow down mid-afternoon and take a little siesta? I don’t. And…if anyone gives you a hard time about taking a nap you simply say – I am doing something to rejuvenate my brain and my memory. Now back off!!!!
I used to tell my boys when they were little they had to go to bed so they could grow. It turns out I wasn’t too far off the mark, based on the size of the boys now. It is absolutely important to sleep, because during that time, Human Growth Hormone is released. This hormone promotes growth in childhood and protects bodily tissues even in adults. If you aren’t on a regular sleep cycle, the release of this hormone is negatively affected. There is no way of getting around it, sleep is so important for everyone at any age. On a side note – one time, when I was a very young nurse, back in the late 80s, I had to draw a Human Growth Hormone level on a child, while they slept. At 2 o’clock in the morning I snuck into his room and drew the blood. Amazingly he didn’t wake up. It still boggles my mind I was able to pull that off.
After talking about my bed and sleep so much, I am now super tired. It must be my sleepy time, the best part of my day. Off to bed to think about ‘T’.