The growing concerns about sleep difficulties have been researched extensively in recent times.There are higher reported incidences of sleep apnea , insomnia and restless leg syndrome than before. Some have organic causes, while most are do to the effects of stress and poor lifestyle habits.
Better quality sleep is an essential lifestyle consideration because it is so closely linked to other important aspects of health. Studies have long demonstrated that people are recommended to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. And yet most people don’t. Why?

  1. Not enough time – There is a finite amount of time that we are limited to every day. Work deadlines, projects, tasks and school studies have pressured ourselves to sacrifice sleep in order to gain extra time to put towards completing these objectives
  2. Stress- Excess worry about health, personal and financial issues are the common mental thought processes that activate our arousal centers in the brain.. Disrupted sleep patterns occur when emotional conflicts are not resolved. This state of mental “unfinished business” is left to be resolved during the night when our thoughts run rampant. Insomnia may occur as a result of psychological stress,chronic pain ,drugs, caffeine and alcohol
  3. Poor sleeping habits. Sleep hygiene is a concept of structurally preparing your bedtime environment for sufficient high quality sleep. Distractions such as watching TV, late night bringing, surfing the net, leaving lights on are all disruptive habits that activate the brains neocortex and heighten awareness and alertness.
  4. The most important one! There is not sufficient understanding of the role of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. This is what I wish to unfold

To most people, having less sleep is like skipping a meal. There may be a little fatigue the next day but otherwise no significant consequence. That is the cultural misperception. Lack of sleep is a significant stressor to the brain. Contrary to what you may think, the brain is quite active during sleep and has an important function during this period.The neurpathways that form to reinforce memories of learned information are processed during the night. The brain receives all the hyper stimulated inputs from the sights ,sounds and movements that occur throughout the day. The hardwiring and cataloging of this information by the hippocampus makes it possible for cognitive memory learning and retention to occur. Its like what happens in the supermarket after closing . After the excitement of daily customer purchases and exchanges ,all the inventory gets assessed and processed at night. The days receipts are calculated and new produce is gathered , organized and structurally displayed for the next day. This is when the brain processes all its activities from the previous day.Lack of sleep disrupts the neural connections which contribute to decreased memory retention and coordination.It thereby interferes with neoplasticity (the formation of new learned nerve connections) which is essential for positive change, growth and development
Oxygen is restored to the inactive skeletal muscles during sleep. This ” battery recharging” of skeletal muscle is the fuel that provides sufficient energy for muscle contraction the next day. Glial cells which are active at night and serve to clean detoxify brain tissue Toxic proteins that contribute to Altzeimers disease are removed during sleep.
Other harmful lack of sleep effects are increased aggression, anger, irritability and mood swings. The cognitive higher centers are impaired . This diminishes conflict management proper decision making and creativity. Meanwhile, the primitive brains sympathetic nervous system is stimulated leading to an increase in the chronic stress response . A prolonged stress response(sympathetic) will thereby inhibit the immune response(parasympathetic). Did you ever recall a time when you lost a full nights sleep? Chances are you also probably caught a cold the next day because you were vulnerable to infections. Hormonal imbalance also occurs. Insulin levels increase which leads to increase in fat storage. There is a decrease in leptin and an increase in ghrelin. These are the hormones that regulate alerting you when you are full. When leptin is reduced you stay hungry. This leads to increased appetite and potential weight gain. Increases in insulin from refined sugar snacks also further blocks leptin in the brain so again you remain hungry.
These are all serious long term consequences to consider when you assess the conflicting barriers to your goals and objectives. The good news is that better sleep habits can be learned and sustained when properly applied. Like everything else ,it takes a positive shift in perspective, solid structural design and a consistent routine. I will demonstrate this formula approach in the next blog.

Can you identify a negative effect that lack of sleep has on you at this time. Is it:

  1. Poor concentration,focus and decision making.
  2. Lack of energy to complete tasks
  3. Irritability, anger or inappropriate aggressive behavior
  4. Increase in hunger
  5. health problems and recurrent illnesses
  6. Memory Loss?

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