Time to Prioritize Sleep

by | Mar 22, 2022 | Blog, News | 0 comments

Karen Lazarus, MD, MS, MPH and Certified iRest® Teacher

Karen Lazarus, MD, MS, MPH, Certfied iRest ®Teacher

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is…that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men’s oppressions? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth?”
–Thomas Dekker

In our always on 24/7 world filled with FOMO (fear of missing out), why would we want to spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping? Are you aware that sleep deprivation was involved in the nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989? You may be aware that sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness and reduced alertness, and impairs judgment, all of which increase risk of accidents. You may know that adequate sleep is essential for learning because it promotes memory consolidation, however there are many other reasons for getting adequate sleep.

Do you want to reduce your risk of getting viral infections? Adequate sleep enhances the immune system. During sleep we produce cells that serve as our body’s first responders to fight infection and inflammation, and to protect us during stress. Sleep also provides us with time to rest and repair the body when we are sick.

Do you want to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk for chronic diseases? Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased levels of leptin, the hormone that helps us feel full, and with increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger. It is also associated with an increase in body mass index and obesity, insulin resistance, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease and mortality.

Do you want to decrease stress and improve your mood? Getting adequate sleep improves stress management, and sleep deprivation is associated with depression and general anxiety disorder. However, there is a bidirectional effect between stress and/or mood disorders and sleep. Stress  and mood disorders can reduce the quantity and quality of sleep. Some people choose to use alcohol to improve sleep, however alcohol reduces the quality of sleep, and sleep deprivation may lead to risky alcohol use or alcohol use disorder. Stress, mood disorders and alcohol use affect our behavior.

Do you want to function well and be at your best? Then getting adequate sleep is essential. But how much sleep is enough? According to the CDC, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep daily. Teens, our most sleep deprived group (a group with high death rates from motor vehicle accidents), need 8-10 hours of sleep daily. Recommendations to promote healthy sleep habits include a stable sleep schedule daily, keeping your bedroom quiet, dark, comfortable and cool, removing electronic devices from your bedroom, avoiding caffeine, large meals and alcohol before bedtime, and getting regular exercise.

The JabuMind App provides iRest® Yoga Nidra. The word “nidra” means sleep. The practice of yoga nidra has been shown to reduce stress and improve sleep (Datta et al. 2021; Gutman et al., 2017). The practices used most by our JabuMind subscribers are the bedtime practices. In my experience teaching iRest, even among veterans with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia, I have often witnessed participants drifting off to an altered state and even heard them snoring. Many participants report that after beginning to practice their sleep improves.

Perhaps you might give the JabuMind App a chance to help you with its sleep check-in and bedtime practices. We would welcome your feedback if you do.

Is it time for you to prioritize sleep? Listen to our meditation here.

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