Last Sunday clocks went back an hour, and everybody relished in the joy of getting an extra hour of sleep. Of course this extra hour was just on loan to us, as it would be cruelly grasped from us come April, but never mind. Let us concentrate on that one compensation we have for enduring the long, cold, dark days of winter. (Note, I’m not even going to enter the debate right now about whether we should continue this “spring forward, fall backwards” attitude for our clocks. That is one for another time.)
“I’m tired all the time.”
A 2010 survey from the Sleep Council found that an amazing 36% of people polled had thrown a “sickie”, often to spend extra time in bed. Sleep is an important part of our bodies’ functions and yet it’s so easy to have it disturbed.
Most people today live and work and play much harder than those from two generations ago. As a consequence, many of us are like TVs left on standby; we’re never switched off completely. Inevitable, fatigue and discomfort will set in as a result of the lack of sleep.
Discomfort or dysfunction
Some people naturally tend to sleep less; older people don’t need as much sleep as teenagers. However some people cannot physically sleep for any length of time due to pain, or physical discomfort. There are others who find themselves being woken up by a full bladder (or the feeling of a full bladder). Waking up 2 – 5 times or more a night is going to play havoc with your sleep patterns, and if you’re not getting enough rest… Well it’s obvious that you’ll wake up worse in the morning and the problem will exacerbate.
Then there are those unlucky ones who can’t sleep for any obvious reasons. They don’t feel particularly stressed (although if you live and function in today’s hectic lifestyle, you are bound to be stressed; you may not notice it but every time you rush to get onto the tube on your commute to work or get stuck in a traffic jam, your body is registering it as a stress factor) and they’re not being woken up in pain. In fact they wish they could be woken up in pain, as they can’t even fall asleep. They lie there listening to that extremely loud internal grandfather clock with its swinging pendulum. The more they think about sleep, the less chance they’ll ever get of having it.
Regardless of the reasons you’re not asleep, the important issue is that sleep helps our bodies repair so that they can function well and efficiently.
Of the 36% polled who pulled a sickie, some may have been genuinely ill. However, it is concerning that so many people alike lack of sleep to ill health, or need to pretend to be sick to get some rest.
“What can I do to get some rest, then?”
It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ll list ten ways to get a good night’s sleep in my next post.
Image: Steph McGlenchy via Flickr
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