Because I Never Talk About Sleep…

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I’m totally being sarcastic with that title. I’ve written a handful of blog posts about proper sleep, rest and napping. And it’s something I can’t stress enough. I’m no stranger to lack of sleep, between PTSD, Diabetes and its various symptoms and the regular stresses of life making my nights shorter than they should be. But there can be a number of common reasons as to why the Sandman’s dust fell off your face early. And here are just a few…

First of all, I should point out that all the reading I’ve done on the topic has shown that most scientists are uncertain as to the WHY of sleep, with its purpose being mainly unknown. That being said, there’s a lot of evidence on the WHAT that takes place while we sleep. According to an article by HealthLine.com, one of my favourite websites, sleep allows for certain biological functions, such as cell and energy restoration, elimination of toxic waste and a bunch of aspects related to improving memories. from a Diabetes standpoint, the article also includes that sleep can help prevent insulin resistance.

Now that I’ve gotten the specifics out of the way, let’s talk about some of these reasons I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Since this is a list combining my own reasons as well as some from outside sources, I’ll link my references below for those who wish to do some further reading. Here we go:

  1. Bad Bedtime Routine: This is a pretty basic one, but it’s surprising how many people have a terrible routine at bedtime that simply doesn’t allow them to fall asleep nicely. Bedtime should (work permitting) be around the same time every night, with a process that’s familiar to your body and allows it to recognize that sleep is forthcoming. Changing into sleepwear, brushing your teeth and ensuring a quiet environment, are good steps to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep;
  2. Still Plugged In: This refers to our wonderful smart devices. If you have the habit of checking social media or gaming when your head hits the pillow, it may have a measurable impact on how well you sleep. A backlit screen can interrupt your body’s production of Melatonin, which is a hormone your body starts to produce late in the day, signalling that bedtime is coming. I’m guilty of this one, as I need some noise in the background to fall asleep or my frayed nerves will jump for every bump and creek that I hear within and without the house. But if you’re not as paranoid as I am, try reading a book instead. Really, any alternative that doesn’t involve a lit screen in your eyes would be preferable;
  3. Getting Drunk: Hey, I have a deep-rooted love for wine, so I can’t say a great deal about this one. But most of us have been here at one time or another. You’re out at a party or a social gathering and you have a couple of drinks too many, which inevitably allows you to unceremoniously black out once your head hits the pillow. But this kind of sleep is usually of diminished quality. Although alcohol may help you fall asleep and sleep deeply, it also disrupts your REM cycle, which is necessary for a restorative sleep. Not to mention that you’re taxing your body’s liver to process the alcohol while it should be doing other things;
  4. Medical Conditions: Obviously, I know a thing or two about this one. Having Type-1 Diabetes will cause all sorts of havoc on getting a good night’s rest. Fluctuating blood sugars, Restless Leg Syndrome and an annoying insulin pump that insists on beeping and/or vibrating for every little thing can make for a choppy night. There are a variety of other conditions that can make it hard to sleep well, including depression, Narcolepsy and bodily injury that causes pain;
  5. Diet and Exercise: Ah, my favourite go-to… It stands to reason that proper exercise will help you to fall asleep and get better rest. There are so many reasons behind this that I’ll just let y’all research this part yourself. I’m sure I ramble on enough without making it worse. But diet plays an important role as well. If you eat something that you have an intolerance for, causes heartburn or indigestion or that has spoiled, you may find yourself running to the washroom and spending half the night up;
  6. Stress: This is the big one, and among the most common. How often have you let your head hit the pillow to suddenly start thinking about the big project at work? Or how you’ll manage to pay that bill that just came in? Or whether the person you swiped on tinder was ACTUALLY of the gender you’re seeking? Stress can play hell on your ability to sleep and can even lead to measurable physiological effects on the body. This is where calming exercises and meditation can be of definite advantage.

Sleep can be fleeting, but the take-home to all of this is to eat and exercise properly, have a structure bedtime routine and ensure a cool, dark, quiet environment to sleep in. Experts say that sleep should come easily and that if you haven’t managed to fall asleep after about 15 minutes, you should leave the bedroom and do something else; reading, meditating, etc before trying again. Rest well, my friends. ☯

References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/8-reasons-why-youre-not-sleeping
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/treatment/what-do-when-you-cant-sleep
  3. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/understanding-sleep-problems-basics
  4. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20130118/alcohol-sleep

Published by

Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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