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How Important is Sleep?

By May 6, 2009 - 10:59pm
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I found out today that there is no magic bullet to maintain health and well being. Many women like me may assume that we are doing everything in our power to stay healthy, but are we? I have a pretty hectic life, like many of you I am sure. Caring for a terminally ill spouse is very draining. As a health/wellness coach I like to practice what I preach but this is not always easy given the circumstances at home. I decided to make an acupuncture appointment today. The doctor took my information and asked me why I wanted to see him. I told him that I needed the acupuncture for a pain on my shoulder and sporadic hives I get from time to time. After a comprehensive medical evaluation, he told me that I was suffering from high inflammation caused by stress. Dah! I knew that, but how did I miss this? I am a healh/wellness coach! How could I?

Well, I did, I neglected the most important person in my life: ME. Sleepless nights caring for my husband, skipping meals and not finding time to medidate for 40 minutes/per day have caught up with me. But among all the things the doctor told me NOT to neglect was a good night sleep. I told him that sleep was a luxury lately. He suggested that even if I get 4 hours of sleep with a 40 minute of daily meditation, my sleep quality would improve.

Healthful sleep has been scientifically proven to be the single most important factor at predicting longevity, more influencial than diet, exercise, or heredity, and yet, we are a sleep-sick society, ignorant of the facts of sleep and the high price our bodies pay for sleep deprivation. Even with all the knowledge I have on wellness, I have neglected my own body from the therapeutical benefits of a good night sleep. I must remind my self that it is up to me to make the choices I need to live a long healthy life.

How about you? Are you struggling with getting a good night sleep? What prevents you from that?

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Virginia, this is such a good post, and very timely for me.

A few months back, you wrote about the amount of light (or, more correctly, the level of darkness) in the bedroom and how it affects our sleep. That was a big clue for me, because our bedroom was not very dark at the time. Our bedroom is on the front side of the house which means we got ambient light into the windows (even through the drapes) from the streetlights out front and from our neighbor's house on the side (they have a bright front porch-light and motion-detector floodlights; I swear that even trees blowing and bending in the wind turns on those motion-detector lights. Ugh.)

We were sleeping OK. But after reading that post, we put window-darkening shades in between the glass and our drapes. The room got much, much darker and we started sleeping much more soundly. I was very surprised at how much our sleep improved with such a seemingly small change in our room. We also sleep with a small fan running; the white noise blocks out small noises from outside the house that would wake us otherwise.

Thank you for your reminders about sleep. Now I need to work on getting to bed and getting up at about the same time each day. (I am a natural night owl and my husband is a natural early bird. Bedtimes and morning have always been interesting for us.)

May 8, 2009 - 8:32am
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