Why do we need 8 hours sleep at night, or to spend a third of our life in bed? It is now thought extended sleep deprivation, sleeping regularly only 4 or five hours a night can have harmful health effects. Long-term sleep deprivation is now liked to heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, diabetes and even dementia and weight loss. Because of comfort eating it can also cause weight gain.
Short term sleep deprivation or a period of sleeplessness, as parents of babies and small children will experience can be the cause of accidents on the roads and in factories by lowering concentration levels, causing clumsiness and a general feeling of being under par. This is soon reversed after a few good night’s sleep. However during the deprived period anything learned is soon forgotten as university students will be aware.
I had forgotten what it felt like to feel to be turned into a zombie by lack of sleep but recently with the hot nights plus increased phone calls from my 99-year-old mother, both during the day and night-time, meant I was functioning decidedly below par!
At last I have just enjoyed about eight hours of blissful sleep. I awoke feeling I could take on the world and nothing would be a problem. My energy levels are high, my concentration ability has quadrupled and I have already spend an hour and a half on marketing research and it is barely nine am!
I now recall times when the children were young – I did have five children under five years including two foster children; but I was in my twenties then and more resilient then. I can truly identify with all new mums out there coping with their new babies and young children, and the dads dragging themselves off to a day’s work-load after sleepless nights; the sleeplessness compounded by the newness of the situation, but it does end.
The other group we should feel for are the carers that are looking after loved ones that need assistance 24/7. That must feel never-ending. Being exhausted on a regular basis is a dreadful feeling it saps your energy, your ability to think clearly, your sense of humour and even your spirit.
So to all those struggling new mums, parents with small and special needs children. The infirm or elderly and their carers’ take every opportunity of help offered you, will feel so much better when you are properly rested, even if it means taking an afternoon nap. After all the Spanish have a name for it, and enjoy their siester-time, when in the villages, shops close for the afternoon, opening again when it’s cooler.
There are some foods that are considered helpful in promoting sleep, we all know a glass of warm milk is helpful but also we could include bananas, nuts and seeds in our arsenal of helpful foodstuffs. Lighter bedding on hot nights also help as duvets now come in tog ratings as low as 1 and 2, I know I have just purchased one online.
So To all you sleep deprived out there for whatever reason I wish you well and an improvement to your situation.
To all new parents you might like to take a look at my new book…
‘Stress-Free Parenting – the Helping Hand for all New Mums’