Recently the New York Times carried a comprehensive article on sleep. Much of it may be a review for you, but the information is important. Here are some highlights:
A number of chronic physical and mental health problems are caused by insufficient sleep:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Compromised immune system
- Poor memory and decision making skills
- Irritable moods
People who are sleep deprived make more mistakes. One sleep survey estimated that in 2012, 274,000 workplace accidents were directly related to sleep problems, costing $31.1 billion annually.
The article writer, Tara Parker-Pope had an interesting analogy for how the brain works while you sleep…
“Think of your brain like a computer that uses the nighttime to back up all your data. It consolidates memories, links with old memories and creates paths for you to retrieve memories, and forms connections between disparate thoughts or ideas. That’s why, when you don’t sleep, your thinking and memory are fuzzy. Some research suggests that when you don’t sleep your ability to learn new information is reduced by almost half.”
Sleep deprivation also make you more susceptible to mental health problems. Why? Your brain does its housekeeping while you sleep. In mouse studies, researchers found that during sleep, the space between brain cells enlarge, allowing toxins to flush out. This research suggests that not sleeping allows toxins to build up, triggering brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We’ll need further research to know for sure.
Many sleep problems can be corrected by better nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques and better sleep habits. However, if you’re experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, you might want to consult with your doctor to see if there’s a physiological reason, like sleep apnea, that can be treated.
Another option is to try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (C.B.T.-I.) to learn how to shut your mind off. I’ve personally discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) is very effective for removing blocks to your well-being. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.