Few people realize that simple sleep is one of the most powerful medicines on the planet.
Surprisingly, sleep is not just about feeling rested. It actually creates dramatic positive health effects across your entire nervous system, restoring the body, mind, and spirit.
Amazing new research has revealed just how critical getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night is to overall short and long-term health in people of all ages, but especially children. Sleep, it turns out, is like an emotional and physical investment account: invest intelligently, and the benefits will be significant.
Let’s briefly examine why sleep is so important:
1. Sleep is the master reset switch which regulates and heals our entire body.
2. Sleep is critical for memory formation and retention, while also being the mechanism for your brain to sort and process the many emotions we experience daily, a process critical for evolving and maturing emotional human beings.
3. Sleep is directly connected to physical and emotional health, and people who regularly don’t get enough sleep have higher rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health issues.
4. Researchers have established that sleep disorders are directly connected to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
5. There are over 100 known sleep disorders, most of which are treatable with various interventions.
6. It turns out that alcohol and other drugs, even some prescription ones, damage the depth and quality of rich and effective sleep, especially in fetuses and infants, and that sleep damaging alcohol passes directly into breast milk in infants who need a massive amount of rich pure sleep while their fragile brains are growing.
7. Poor sleep or sleep disorders can have profound and dangerous side effects on those who struggle with mental health issues. Sleep problems effect emotional control—how a person regulates their thoughts, feelings, and decisions—but also how they perceive reality. This can lead to dangerous or distorted thoughts and feelings, which can in turn lead to terrible choices and behaviors.
8. Caregivers of the elderly should also be aware of the changing quality of sleep that naturally happens in the brain of older people. As we age, we tend to lose the ability to get high quality sleep, or to stay asleep for as long as we used to. The signals which regulate deep sleep weaken as we get into our 60’s and above, but a visit to a sleep specialist can address the options for dealing with insomnia or problems in the age evolved.
Sleep is simply the single greatest factor regulating the spectrum of a person’s overall health.
Sleep is the one thing we all have the power to tweak and adjust, and is so serious that pro-athletes are now required by their contracts to get 10 hours of sleep a night!
Sleep is the rock on which we build and maintain all wellness—whether emotional, physical, or spiritual. So do yourself a favor, and fill up that sleep bank account and reap the emotional and physical rewards. Your mind and body will thank you.
Establishing a healthy sleep routine and other specific interventions can improve you or your child’s sleep. Our occupational therapists at Beyond Therapy can provide various strategies to help guide you to locating the right tools to improve your sleep and ultimately your mood!
Susannah Silvia M.C.D, CCC-SLP, is the clinical director of Beyond Therapy for Kids in Ridgeland, MS. She specializes in early language disorders, severe articulation disorders, and feeding issues. She is also an adjunct professor at Jackson State University teaching early intervention and craniofacial anomalies. Follow her on IG @thesouthernbabble or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org