Your Body, Sleep, and Happiness, Part I

Sleep and Happiness are closely related, especially when it comes to your health. But sleep has kind of a bad rap in our modern fast-paced world. Just glance at the Internet and you’ll see news about our national love affair with insomnia. Frank Sinatra started spreading the news decades ago when he sang of the city that never sleeps. Studies bear him out, too. The most sleepless boroughs in the country are Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island where residential eyelids don’t start to droop until just around midnight. *  Party cities like Miami and Las Vegas are also filled with night owls as are college towns. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” could become our new anthem.

We are gradually becoming a nation of electrified somnambulists. We bring our electronic gadgets with us to bed and say goodbye to cuddling, dreams, and deep sleep. In 2013 a Gallop poll suggested that only 40% of us get enough sleep—and that was before the latest version of iPhone 6. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/166553/less-recommended-amount-sleep.aspx)

We are sleep deprived and it is affecting everything from our productivity to our sex lives. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the annual cost lost in worker productivity is in the double-digit $ billions.

The fact is we are happier when we get enough sleep. Sleep affects brain function. When we don’t get enough, the amygdala, the brain’s center for emotional response, gets confused. We become short-tempered. Our libido drops. The sympathetic nervous system, famous for its fight or flight responses, gets activated. We become edgy and irritable. The sleepy brain is more likely to develop depression and anxiety. Weight gain and increased risk for stroke and diabetes have been linked to sleep deficiencies.

Sleep is not lost time; it’s not just about resting. Your body regulates its vital systems during sleep. The brain does, too. It clears toxins and processes information taken in during the day. New research even shows that the brain makes decisions during sleep (http://www.iflscience.com/brain/decision-making-we-can-do-it-our-sleep/).

The benefits of getting enough sleep include:

  • improved memory and attention
  • increased longevity
  • reduced inflammation
  • greater creativity
  • improved athletic performance
  • reduced stress

In February last year, the National Sleep Foundation published new sleep recommendations. Here is how much you should be sleeping each night:

Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
Younger adults (18-25): need 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults (26-64): should get 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (this is also a new age category)
(https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times)

What can you do about it? How can you get more sleep? We will dig into it here on our blog with Your Body, Sleep, and Happiness Part II. Until then, stay tuned and um, get some sleep, will ya?

* You can see the full study here: https://jawbone.com/blog/circadian-rhythm/

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