The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By LuAnn Schindler



December 12, 2019

I don’t get enough sleep.

I’m guessing, neither do you.

Daily, as I sync my FitBit, I’m reminded that a sleep score in the 70s isn’t good.

“Catch more Zzzzzs,” the app taunts.

When I look at my REM pattern, frankly, it scares me.

I know I need more deep sleep. Four to five hours a night may have been sufficient in college, or most of us convinced ourselves it was enough to get by. But now, four or five hours of rest leaves me feeling more tired then when I went to bed.

The biggest reason I know I need more sleep: I’ve resorted to making lists. At least that’s my hypothesis. I’m sure it has nothing to do with age.

I’ve always been a to-do list maker, but this time, it’s different. Lately, if I don’t write down things I need to take care of, well, I may forget ... and that short-term memory loss is completely out of character for me.

There’s a definite correlation between sleep and brain power. The brain accounts for 20% of a person’s energy consumption. It’s a dynamo that multitasks and controls our body’s basic tasks.

Most important, it needs rest. Even when you’re asleep - or your habit tracker records moments of restlessness and restfulness - your brain is firing information.

During sleep, a fascinating series of events happens: cerebrospinal fluid moves next to a network of arteries and moves into water surrounding cells, providing nutrients and filtering cellular waste.

A 2012 study at the University of Rochester Medical Center reported that the glymphatic system described above cleans the brain of neurotoxic subtances, including amyloid-beta, a protein that forms the characteristic plaque in Alzheimer’s disease.

The glymphatic system is active during sleep. When awake, the channels tighten and limit cerebrospinal fluid flow.

If the glymphatic function isn’t working properly, it can increase the abundance of amyloid-beta, and possibly, increase likelihood of neurological diseases.

Since July, I’ve been making a conscious effort to increase sleep time. Granted, there are still nights when even counting sheep doesn’t work, but setting a few nighttime routines has helped.

Most important, set a sleep schedule and stick to it. It sets the body’s natural clock, so head to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.

Add more exercise to your daily routine. It’s amazing how a quick one-mile walk or 20 minutes of cardio affects the rest of the day, including sleep time.

Keep it hot and cool. Start with a hot bath or shower, which lowers the core temperature, which initials sleep. A consistent cool bedroom temperature, no higher than 68 degrees, will aid sleep time. Running a ceiling fan helps, too.

Find time to wind down without electronics. This is tough because we’ve become conditioned to check email and messages at all hours.

Sleep deprivation is an epidemic in this country. It triggers depression, elevates blood pressure, increases cholesterol levels and creates stress. No thank you.

Sleep may be “the interest we pay on the capital which is called in at death; the higher the interest, the more regulary it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.”

It’s time for many of us to build more interest.


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