I am pretty sure all of us have suffered from lack of or disturbed sleep sometimes. There have been times in life – like when children were young and woke me up regularly or when there are too many things to do and 24 hours just isn’t enough to do them or I have been worrying about something that is beyond my control – that I find my sleep gets disturbed for a longer period of time. I start noticing that it is hard for me to fall asleep. I might be tired, but I just can’t fall asleep. Sometimes I have suffered a pattern of waking up in the early hours and I am unable to fall asleep again. My mind has taken over and started going through the following day’s to-do list. For me these are very clear alarm bells as I am usually a sound sleeper.
Chronic sleep deprivation may have a much wider effect on us than we might anticipate. With age I have noticed the effects even more clearly. Sleeplessness doesn’t just make us grumpy but it can also influences our mental ability, impairing our attention, concentration, alertness, reasoning and our ability solve problems. Lack of concentration leads easily to accidents. Amongst dancers and athletes there is an increase in sprains and strains towards the end of the day or the end of a training period when performing over-tired. One of the symptoms of sleep deprivation is forgetfulness. I noticed this very clearly after having children.
Sleep deprivation has also been linked to the higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, higher blood pressure, strokes and diabetes.
Sleeplessness does not just make us feel less healthy, but it also affects our looks. Lack of sleep makes our bodies secrete more of a stress hormone called cortisol, which breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps our skin healthy looking, smooth and elastic. Sleep deprivation also reduces the secretion of human growth hormone, which in adults helps to thicken skin, strengthen bones and increase muscle mass. This means that lack of sleep is slowly destroying the body and aging you quicker.
However, it is not the fault of the skin that this is happening. The root of the problem is what is causing the sleeplessness – the issues that influence our nervous system and keep it overstimulated. Solve the problem causing your sleeplessness if you can! You will notice the difference and how your body starts relaxing with your mind. Sometimes, however, there are underlying issues that are out of your control and cannot be dealt with or changed. In these situations, I have found cranio-sacral therapy a great way to give a break to my overworking nervous system. At the end of a treatment, I feel that I have noticeably slowed down – the many jobs that I might have previously had don’t seem so important that I couldn’t walk slower or smile – I feel happier and more relaxed. Cranio-sacral therapy usually improves my sleep too. Once the nervous system relaxes, the disturbed sleep patterns disappear. After sleeping well for few nights I feel younger and healthier again.
Sleep yourself healthy and beautiful!