I was inspired to write this post due in large part to a recent dream experience (no, nightmare) I had the other night. Ever since riding gluten from my diet, I’ve been able to dream much better. They are more vivid, and most recently I have been able to lucid dream, a wonderful experience when Johnny Depp, for some unbeknownst reason, saunters in my REM cycle; Chris did not approve. However, the funniest thing about my dream sphere is that it was a place where I could go to savor gooey cinnamon buns, crunchy slices of French bread, and pillow-y pizzas. If that isn’t akin to the cliché of women going to sleep to dream of their exes, then I don’t know what is! Sadly, the other night something new occurred. I had just swallowed the most delicious bite of pizza, when suddenly I was overcome with the pain gluten intolerants and celiacs feel when they’ve been “glutened. “ My hands went numb and I doubled over in pain. Upon waking up and realizing it was a dream (I’m not yet a pro at lucid dreaming), I was immensely sadden to realize that even my once safe dream space had turned against me; all good things cannot last forever.
Anecdote aside, this post will be on the importance of sleep. We need it to function. During nighty-time our brain acts like a computer that is updating itself, making sure everything is going into the right slots. Fighting the urge to sleep weakens the body. We are more susceptible to being sick. I know that when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m apt to wake up with a raging headache and a stuffy nose. It can also lead to depression and memory loss (WebMD.)It’s tempting to feel powerful, like a colonist sticking his flag in the sand of new found lands, when you’ve pulled an all nighter to complete a paper—which you probably should have done earlier—but your body will demand that the sleep debt you’ve accrued be repaid. Not to mention, they call it beauty sleep for a reason. Have you seen people that don’t get enough sleep? For the most part…HAGGARD, YO!
Another interesting thing that happens when you don’t get much sleep is that you tend to put on weight. This happens for two reasons. The first is chemical. Our body produces ghrelin and leptin. Doctor Michael Breus says, “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.” (Source)Sleep deprivation is the groggy breeding ground for unhappy midsections and hips.
The other reason, linked to chemical imbalances, is when we are tired we have less energy to do healthy things. We don’t have the energy put together balanced meals and snacks to take to work or school. Instead, we reach for the easiest thing, which tends to be calorically dense, nutritionally void junk foods and drinks. And if we’ve had sleep deprivation for quite some time, we probably cannot muster up the strength to work out. Over time that leads to weight gain, over time that can lead to low self-image, which left alone can encourage anxiety, extreme sadness, and possibly depression. Get in some winks, man.
In this country we put a lot before ourselves. It’s understandable that we have deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, and possibly children to take care of, but please look at your schedule to find time to fit these things in. I’m in college and I work three jobs, but I still find time to do my homework, prepare healthy meals (sometimes I pass the responsibility onto Chris, who sautés with gusto after I give him the stank eye), and do some yoga. And to be honest, on most days, I still find myself with 90 minutes of left over time, so I assure you it’s possible to run a tight ship and find time to veg out and get in solid sleep. It can seem restrictive, but you’ll feel much better.
Being healthy means working in harmony with your body. Sure, not everyone needs to follow the adage of eight hours a night. Really healthy people can run on five, some are fine with seven, but you have to find what works for you. Get off the hamster wheel and take control of our life. The occasional all nighters happen, but habitually staying up late (well, actually staying up early), as you can see above, is not doing your body any favors.
This post is going to be 2-parts. Check in tomorrow for the encore, which talks about finding ways for the average person to get to bed without unnecessary and possibly addictive aids. Again, I’m all for medication be it depression, ADD/ADHD, sleep disorders, and the likes, if you need it, but if you don’t then please don’t fall prey.
Peel Away those sleepy seeds (hehe….ew!)