sleeping, the importance of sleep, insomnia,theindiechicks,the indie chicks, according to jewels

The Importance of Sleep & How To Get More

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Julie Zantopoulos

When not acting as Vice President and Senior Editor at The Indie Chicks, Jewels is a writer at heart and most likely writing for her own website According to Jewels or working on her first novel.In her free time she's loves heading to concerts, taking road trips, reading, and doing anything crafty. Don't hesitate to reach out...she loves chatting with our readers.

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How often have you heard adults say that they only need 5-6 hours of sleep a night to function? Heck up until very recently I thought that was all I needed, too. It’s just not true though. An adult should be getting 7.5 -9 hours of sleep every night. How many of us actually get that though? The importance of sleep can’t be overlooked if we want to be the best version of ourselves.

Instead of shrugging off the importance of sleep you should realize that not only does lack of adequate sleep cause moodiness, sickness (from colds to higher risk for heart disease and high blood pressure) but it also decreases your sex drive, can lead to weight gain, and it also ages our skin (gasp). Lack of sleep has a lot of consequences but none more counter productive than a skewed view on sleep itself. When we are sleep deprived we start actually believing that we’ve adapted to getting 5 hours of sleep a night and are functioning well when in reality we are not.

When it comes to your general well being, both physical and mental, the importance of sleep cannot be overlooked. I can hear you already, “But there is so much to be done.” Or “My To Do List won’t complete itself”. Better yet I’ve heard this one SO many times, “If I don’t do it, it will never get done.” I get it, I really do. In the grand scheme of most mothers/wives/adult women the importance of sleep is overlooked for the importance of our daily tasks. I’ve been there and frankly I’m still crap with getting enough sleep BUT there are some tips that can help you get into a healthier sleep pattern.

Your Bed Is For Sleeping…and Sex

I’m guilty of taking my lap top and working from bed all the time! This is possibly one of the most counter productive practices when it comes to getting to sleep at the end of my day. Your body (and mind) should be trained to associate your bed with sleep (or boinking) time but if you work, watch tv, or spend your time at home in your bed then your mind doesn’t know this is the place it’s supposed to shut off. So because I understand the importance of sleep I work at my desk even though I loathe sitting in an office chair  to work and watch TV. The upside is that I’ve noticed it does help me fall asleep at night if I only crawl into bed to sleep.

Set A Bed Time

You may feel like you are back in grade school but this is hugely important for getting back on track with your sleep. It doesn’t matter if your To Do List isn’t done (let’s be honest-they’ll be a longer one the next day anyway) or if the dishwasher needs unloading, get into bed and shut down. It might sound silly but having a regular time that you go to sleep, every night, as well as wake up every day, helps your body set it’s own natural rhythm. I hate getting up early on the weekends but when I do I notice I have less problems falling asleep at night and waking up on Monday morning. When you understand the importance of sleep it gets easier to have a regular schedule that will improve the quality of sleep you do get, even if you aren’t getting the 8-9 hours you should.

Decompress

Even if you understand the importance of sleep I don’t know anyone who can go from full blown mental activity to sleep immediately. I know you want to get those last couple of things done but respect the importance of sleep by letting them wait and relaxing before bed time. How should you unwind though? Studies show you should avoid the television as a method for falling asleep because it inhibits the production of melatonin (your bodies sleepy chemical). Chiara has a great tip for unwinding which is to allot 30 minutes each night to reading prior to lights out as a way to decompress her brain. I don’t hate this idea, though ideally the book should be recreational and not informational; the brain should be relaxing. If you have the same problem I do, not being able to put a book down and staying up until 3am to read, then this isn’t the right decompression activity for you. Instead try a warm bath/shower, some light stretching, or listening to Sarah McLachlan by tiny twinkle lights (am I the only one that does that?).

Control Your Thoughts

We’re all guilty of placing our heads on the pillow only to come up with the next genius invention, story line, or To Do List item. Lord knows we can’t just go to sleep because we might forget it, so up we get to write it down, enter it into our iPhone notes, or worse we actually start writing. You have to exercise control over your thoughts as you lay down. Concentrate on your breathing, relaxing your muscles, and on letting go of your daily worries. This is one of the hardest tasks for me to conquer even though I fully understand the importance of sleep. A woman’s brain, a successful, badass, world changing woman’s brain doesn’t just simple, shut off. It has to though if we want to conquer all those goals the next day.

The Importance of Sleep in Perspective

I talked about perspective last week and this is another time when it really comes in handy. I know that unfinished project, unloaded dishwasher, and pans in the sink are making you insane but remember that without adequate sleep EVERYTHING about your life decreases in productivity. You aren’t functioning as well as you could be, no matter how much you tell yourself that you are, if you aren’t getting enough sleep. The importance of sleep means that without enough of it you aren’t being the best mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister, or friend that you can be. Hell, you aren’t being the best YOU that you could be. So, let the dishes sit in the sink, to hell with the unfolded clothes, they can wait because you, and your health, are more important.

I know a lot of this is easier said than done but try a couple of these tips and I promise you’ll start seeing improvements. You know the importance of sleep, I know you do, now it’s time to start taking steps to get it. Taking the time to get good rest means you can be MORE productive during your waking hours, can be more alert and engaged, and can handle stress better. And really, who doesn’t want that?

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  • http://theindiechicks.com/ Chiara Mazzucco

    I’m in the process of building a much healthier relationship with sleep than I’ve ever had. I used to be the “I only need 5 hours to function” person… and granted, having a kid definitely trains you for it, but I also always lived in constant fatigue because not sleeping amplified my beta thalassemia symptoms. Then I started trying to force myself to sleep and I get heart palpitations sometimes from the disorder, which in turn trigger full blown anxiety. Kind of like when I used to do drugs, I would say, “If I can fall asleep in the next hour, I will get 5 full hours..” and then I’d look up at an hour would have passed: “Ok, that’s not the end of the world. Get 4 hours and…” and it’d go on. And as the hours would pass, the anxiety would worsten. Now that I’m living a healthy lifestyle again, I make it a point to turn off electronics by 10 and read for an hour before bed. I go tot he gym every day and that helps. By the time 11 comes around, I AM KNOCKED OUT!

    • Jewels

      It’s amazing what healthier living and being aware of your sleep habits will do to better your sleep. Better sleep=better you!

  • Ashley Sapp

    I struggle with sleep, and that is nothing new. In high school and college, I was a full-blown insomniac and would turn to unhealthy ways of attempting to gain sleep (sleeping pills followed by No-Doze to wake myself up and shake the grogginess). Nowadays, decompressing and getting my mind to shut down is the most difficult thing for me. Because of chronic pain, I am often achy, which makes me fidget, which makes me anxious, and so forth. I am good about not taking work to bed, and I have found reading before bed is a useful way to allow the mind to shut off somewhat. It’s still a work in progress, so I appreciate the tips in this article!

    • Jewels

      I was REALLY bad in college but as I got busier, and as my body stopped allowing me as much rest, I had to get a lot better at correcting my sleep patterns. I’m glad to hear that you are in a healthier pattern now and that you appreciated these tips.

  • http://just-tish.blogspot.com/ Mynx

    I am a bear without sleep. I just don’t function. And no matter what time I go to bed, I rarely ever sleep in.
    So I make sure I am in bed at a reasonable time. If I have trouble drifting off, lately I have been using some meditation techniques to slow my brain down

    • Jewels

      Meditation techniques are a great way to calm yourself down. Breathe deep and slow. Love it. I’m a MESS without sleep as well.

  • http://www.forherbyher.com/ ForHerByHer

    I’m embarrassed to say that I’m sitting in bed with my laptop this very minute. The one thing I should never do. Unlike those people who can get by on 5 hours of sleep, that just won’t do for me. Unless I get a solid 7 hours, I’m not as productive as I could be.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about decompressing before going to sleep. It’s not always easy, but so very necessary. Starting tomorrow, my laptop’s staying on my desk :)

    • Jewels

      It is SO hard. I’m definitely guilty of going to bed with my laptop but I’ve realized that when i do I have a MUCH harder time getting to sleep. it really does make a difference leaving it at the desk whenever possible.

  • Blissification

    So…I’m in bed on my laptop right now, but I promise that I’ll put it down and take a nap. I think people take sleep for granted. I’m still mad about nap time. Why give children nap time when adults don’t have it too? I imagine sleep being a luxury for a lot of people, but it’s necessary to be a functioning, healthy, non-zombie like human being. Although I wish I were one of those who could just live off three hours or so.