Is sleep important?
Scientists, psychologists, doctors, teachers, social workers and parents have long agreed that a good night's sleep is essential to our overall well being.
Generally, everyone performs better after a restful sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture, leading to confused thinking, weakened will power and being more susceptible to brain washing. Sleep deprived people have poorer memory, are less coherent and use poor logic. It is incredible that the medical profession still considers it normal to have its newest doctors operate in a highly stressful, sleep deprived environment and still be expected to make life and death decisions.
The boast of being able to get by on very reduced hours of sleep has been shown to be foolhardy. Babies, during their greatest growth spurts sleep for long periods which allows the body to concentrate on the work on hand. While the conscious mind sleeps, many parts of the body work very hard indeed. As one little girl said to me: My ears are always awake.As indeed they are. The smallest unexpected sound can interrupt the deepest sleep.
Once the various stages of sleep get going (there are 4), the body automatically, with no input from your conscious mind, gets to work, sending great washes throughout the body, through the muscles, organs, brain, blood vessels, clearing out debris and restoring a healthy balance. Most importantly the brain engages in this same activity sending wave upon wave of 'wash' throughout the intricate folds of the brain, clearing blockages or build ups and clearing the paths, which is why after a good night's sleep, the anxieties, dilemmas and problems have sprung into context and often solutions present themselves and a clearer perspective is evident. .
Dreaming is a vital part of this process. thoughts are thought through,tensions are abated and stress points cleared.
All parts of sleep are important, but scientists and psychologists have been intrigued by rapid eye movement, REM, , This is the stage of sleep when the eyes, although closed are visibly moving. This is when we are most likely to be dreaming. Some people remember large parts of their dreams, others snatches and some profess to not dream at all, although many of these when tested are found to engage in some REM sleep.
Many researchers believe that lack of REM sleep, which means lack of dreaming, is heavily implicated in various illnesses and health problems including daytime drowsiness, inattentiveness, irritability, inability to control anger and frustration, addiction, heart disease, early death and cancer. In cancer, the body is overwhelmed and unable to cope with the growth of rogue cells. Many diseases are due to inflammation, where the body cannot resist or expel the large amount of inflammation and so begins to break down. This is what is involved in Arthritis, Irritable bowel and many viral infections.
The slow wave of sleep of the early stages is important in clearing out all this debris and restoring balance and it is only when these phases have been completed to the satisfaction of the physical body that the REM stage can get going which is so important to our overall health and well being. This usually happens after 7 hours sleep.
Yes, after 7 hours sleep.
And yet with all our advances with rockets, computers, entertainment, tv, comfortable houses and beds, we are getting less sleep than at any time in our history.
Young executives demonstrate their loyalty to their job by being in, seated at their desk, with a kick start large coffee beside them, ahead of the herd. Some have even jumped out of bed to go to the gym and put the body through a punishing round of exercise before eating or waking up properly. The funniest are those that wake early to meditate.
Personally, I love the early morning and there is something magical to the dawn and it is a wonderful time to meditate, but I am in bed by 9.30.
Think about your sleeping pattern. Try getting to bed early. Doing light stretching/yoga before bed is helpful and breathing exercises accompanied by light meditation, calms the body and mind and puts us into sleep mode.
Sweet dreams. They are important, even if they are not so sweet.