Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthy Habit #10 for 2010: Get enough sleep






Sleep.  Who gets enough of it?  Even children don't get enough sleep these days!

We call my 5-year-old daughter, Bethany, the "queen" because she doesn't wake up before 10:00 or 10:30 most mornings!  She definitely needs her sleep, and unlike her older brothers and sisters, who grew up in a home where bedtime was strictly enforced at a fairly early hour, she is usually up far too late at night, and makes up for that with her "queenly" behavior the next morning!  :)

However, according to this WebMD article, children of her age need 10-12 hours of sleep a night, so she's really just getting the sleep of any average princess. 


My goal for this year is to be in bed by 10:00 or 10:30 pm most nights, so that I can get up at 5:00 or 5:30 am, and get at least seven hours of sleep. In a busy household dominated by young adults, a high school athlete, and a couple college students, the day becomes slanted toward the night time hours, and this isn't always possible. However, consistently going to bed late makes it nearly impossible for me to get up as early as I would like, which negatively affects many of the habits I am working to establish this year. So, establishing a reasonable bedtime is an important key to my success.


According to Jordan Rubin, in Perfect Weight America, "A nationwide sleep deficit means that we're packing in as much as we can from the moment we wake up until we crawl into bed sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen exhausting hours later.  American adults are down to a little less than seven hours of sleep each night, a good two hours less than our great-great-grandparents slept a hundred years ago."

Rubin goes on to say that "a lack of sleep boosts the appetite, especially for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.  What happens is that sleep lowers leptin, a hormone that tells the brain that it doesn't need more food, and elevates ghrelin, a different hornone that triggers hunger."  (p. 172)


Diana Schwarzbein, MD, emphasizes that getting enough sleep is essential to having a healthy body and maintaining a healthy weight.  She mandates getting at least eight of hours of sleep every night, and more if one is sleep deprived!  She also recommends getting ample downtime during the day to let our minds rest. 

In her book, The Transition, she says, "Sleep is anti-aging and more important than you realize because while you are sleeping, your body does most of its rebuilding.  Also, all three levels of the major hormones -- insulin, adrenaline, and cortisol -- are higher when you are sleep deprived.  Therefore, if you do not get enough quality sleep, you may end up with a degenerative disease of aging at an early age."  (p. 340)

Schwarzbein also asserts that the seasons affect our sleep patterns, which I found very interesting, because I've always had my own theories about that!  She explains how light and dark affect the normal circadian rhythm of our wake and sleep cycles.  "When it is light, you produce more serotonin and are awake.  When it is dark, you produce more melatonin to sleep.  It is easier to make serotonin in the summer and harder to make it in the winter.  You need less sleep in the summer than you do in the winter because more sunlight increases serotonin production.  You need to honor these daily and seasonal cycles by resting when it is dark and being active when it is light.  If you constantly overstimulate yourself at night to stay up longer, you will disrupt this normal sleep rhythm."  (p. 340)

She further states, "I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting enough sleep, since it is extremely difficult to change poor nutrition and lifestyle habits when you are sleep-deprived.  For example, if you are sleep-deprived, you may start comfort eating.  Comfort foods usually contain or are carbohydrates, and the more carbohydrates you eat, the more carbohydrates you will want."  She also cautions against using stimulants to make up for a lack of sleep, which sets you up for a hazardous, hard-to-break cycle.  (p. 343)

"The bottom line," according to Dr. Schwarzbein, "is that one of the most important risk factors for accelerated aging that you have control over is getting enough quality sleep.  The term 'beauty sleep' is more than just words.  You will feel more beautiful after a good night's rest because your body will rebuild during that time."  (p. 344)

The mirror tells me I could definitely benefit from more "beauty sleep!"  So, I'm trying to work on getting a decent amount of sleep, but getting eight or more hours a night seems almost impossible in this day and age, especially for homeschooling moms of many, who have way more to do in a day than they can ever get done, and often allow their workloads to spill over into the night.

So, tell me, how much sleep do you get a night?  Are you able to get those valuable eight hours of shut-eye most nights?  Or does sleeping eight hours a night sound like a dream to you??

6 comments:

Amy Ellen said...

Fantastic Post!!!

I would love to get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night. But I get seven and nurse twice in that seven hours. Not enough. At all. But, this is a season. And my sweet baby is growing too fast for me to bear. So I will gladly nurse him and hold him close in the quiet of the night. Soon... soon I will get solid sleep, even if I can't get 8 hours! You're right... there aren't enough hours in the day for a busy homeschooling mom to fit everything in and still get 8 or more hours of sleep. But sleep is so important for our health!

Noel said...

I love this post on sleep! I saw a thumb-sucker in your picture and I've got a question. I have an ambidextrous thumb sucker at home and I'm wondering, do you break them of the habit? do you let it go until they stop naturally? What do you do? We're trying to get our son to quit, but now it seems both hands are in his mouth all the time! Help!

Rebecca's Refining said...

I love the pic of your "sleeping princess"! I love looking at sleeping children.....they look so peaceful...the "calm before the storm" I guess!! :)

I have noticed Audrey really requires 12 hours of sleep per night, but unfortunately with her school schedule, and lack of diligence, she is getting to bed later than I would like.....she was up past 11pm a few nights last week just completing her homework! :( It definately makes a difference in her attitude and production the next day, producing a "downward spiral to destruction"

I know I do not get the sleep I need either, or Burlin for that matter. Sometimes it is probably caused from just not using my time wisely, yet other times it is just "life" in general. I set my alarm for 5am, as that is when I desire to rise, have time with God,and maybe exercise before the stress of the day begins! However, I find I hit the snooze bar more and more, getting up later and later. I am really failing on this goal for the year! :( I will have to strive to do better...and pray more diligently for the Lord to help me get victory over my flesh!

By the way....you have to email this post to Amber......she LOVES her sleep......so she would greatly appreceiate this information! :) She may be "sleep deprived" at school....but certainly not at home!! :)

dyslexic different thinking me said...

You said: The mirror tells me I could definitely benefit from more "beauty sleep!"
The bags under my eyes agree!!
Great post ~

mommyx12 said...

That's such a precious a precious picture of your Bethany. She's like ALL my kids, sleeping in until 10 or later. I like it because they get all their needed work done in a day and I get a few hours of quiet by myself.

tlmalcolm said...

Sleep! Oh, how I miss a straight night of not waking up! I should have a nursing baby as I'm awake every few hours! Atleast now I sleep most of the night. Last year I wasn't sleeping at all. My hormones or lack of them is the cause!! I can attest that not sleeping well effects your health. My blood sugar and cholestral both rose when I was not sleeping. Now that I'm sleeping somewhat better my blood sugar and cholestral is improving. As for a thumb sucker...they make the most content children!!:) My son sucked his thumb from the day he came home from the hospital until age 7. He stopped on his own and even earlier he knew not to suck in public:) He slept thru the night at 6 weeks and always was able to comfort himself. I'd take a thumb sucker baby any day! Don't force your child to stop...they will.

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