HOW IMPORTANT IS SLEEP?

The idea of sleep is popping up everywhere now.  Maybe not just now but I’m certainly noticing it everywhere now.  In magazines, on talk shows, on radio shows, especially on my podcasts they talk about how important sleep is and that really we need about 8-10 hours of restful sleep every night.  Some people would say that they only need about 5-6 and that may be the case but the true indicator is how do you feel when you wake up? Do you feel rested? Did you need your alarm to go off to get you up? How does your body feel? Is your brain ready for the day?

With MCTD there is a certainly level of fatigue that I have lived with for many years and just accepted as being part of my life and my normal base line.  Today my thoughts on this subject are changing because my fatigue level is low and when I sleep well at night my fatigue level is almost non-existent. I was always under the impression that if I went to bed the same time every night and woke up the same time very day that my body would adjust and that was the best way to get my most sleep.  I don’t believe in that philosophy anymore and instead I believe now that I sleep as much as I need.  On a typical work day I still need to set my alarm and may or may not wake up before it goes off.  I analyze how I feel when I wake up and after taking inventory decide what kind of workout I’m going to do.  I have an idea each day of what is on my agenda but willing to make adjustments if I need.  Sometimes if I wake up and my body is overly fatigued I try and get a little more sleep.

On the weekends I have decided to turn off my alarm and just naturally wake up. Sometimes it is the same time as the week days and sometimes I sleep in much later but either way I’m just letting my body do what it needs.  Not using an alarm on the weekends is very liberating and wished I heard about it sooner but like I said previously I was under the impression that come Monday I would be out of whack and it was better to stick to a schedule.  I keep learning things all the time and adopting new philosophies.

What constitutes good sleep?  For me real sleep means that I although I might wake up once in the middle of the night I’m able to go right back to sleep and when I wake up I feel like I got a restful night’s sleep with at least 8 hours.  I’ll take 7 if my body feels ok the next day but 8 is really the best for me.  More than 8 and I tend to feel even more tired during the day but apparently this isn’t such a bad thing it could mean that my body is just trying to catch up.  Little naps when convenient can also be helpful but let’s face it sometimes naps are just a luxury we don’t have.

Our bodies do their healing when we are sleeping and I always knew this especially when I would be in a flare, go to bed, and wake up feeling completely back to base line the next morning.  My body was forced to sleep and heal itself during my flare-up.  Luckily I haven’t had a flare in quite a while but I know my body is healing itself in lots of ways during the night.  The stress reduces when we sleep well, our cortisol levels naturally drop when we have good sleep, our minds work better when we have good sleep and mostly we can tell in our everyday performance that our sleep was good. An example is that last night I had a great night’s sleep and when I woke up it was before my alarm but I felt well rested.  I chose this morning to do my sprints since I was feeling well and had a wonderful Bikram practice.  This all plays a part when we sleep well.

Many people ask the question how do we make sure we get good sleep and that is a question that can take a whole blog to explain but what it boils down to is sleeping in a black-out room (which I’m not there yet) good nutrition, moderate exercise, moderate meditation, even some help with a natural sleep aid.  I personally would not opt for a medication but I don’t mind taking a natural supplement if I feel like my sleep might not be good.  It just comes down to choice and what you need for your body. Everyone needs quality sleep how we get there has many levels.

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