Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catching My Z's

"Your brainwaves have more structure when you are asleep than when you are awake. It’s kind of like defragmenting your hard drive, only it’s much more important.”
Dr. John Wilson, neurologist and co-director of the Sleep Lab at Loyola University’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Maywood, Illinois

I think of my brain as an endless series of file cabinets. When I am more tired, I see these file cabinets with drawers open, files pulled out here and there, and papers scattered in all directions. Like my computer, the constant updating of information and the addition and deletion of files results in pieces, or fragments, of information floating around. This slows down my computer and my brain. I know when my brain is in this state because I tend to be more muddled, I make mistakes and become even more drained of energy. When my computer slows, I run a defrag program. When my brain becomes cluttered and I feel my energy lacking, it is time to defrag my brain by making sure I am getting the sleep my body needs.

“In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.”1

“Research has revealed that people who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic disease.”2

Basically, if you don’t get your Z’s, you are more prone to a host of problems. Information on the benefits of sleep abounds, but for me, I know I feel better and function at my best when I catch 8 to 9 hours of hibernation time. I would like to have more awake time in my day, but I’m not doing myself any favors by cutting back on my sleep. Getting the Z's I need is a choice and keeps me balanced. My body works twenty-four hours a day, and sleeping is when I am able to let my body recover from what I may have put it through during the day. Sleep allows my body to heal.

With autumn daylight growing shorter, I feel my natural rhythms of sleep falling into step as I reset my internal clock. As these days gradually grow shorter, I feel more of a draw towards hibernating. Join me⎯defrag your brain by making sleep a priority, and discover the power of sleep⎯one Z at a time.
Patch taking a nap photo courtesy of mike@bensalem