Sleep why does it trouble us
The amount of sleep required between individuals vary. It is estimated that the amount of sleep we get today is less than in previous generations. Some have also argued that the pattern of one long continuos sleep is also unnecessary and have promoted the idea that rather than there being one continuous sleep cycle that there are possibly two with a natural awakening in-between the two four hours of sleep. Others have experimented with differing sleep patterns, twenty to 30 minutes every 4 hours, 30 minutes every 6, etc. Each resulting in less sleep than the often quoted 7 to 8 hours. Of course one factor influencing when and how one sleeps is work. There is a practical advantage in getting one continuous sleep during the night. While researchers are still debating the full function of sleep, it is known that sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to function. Another aspect of sleep is the role of cortisol which follows the sleeping pattern, in that it is at is lowest in the evening and gradually increases during the night, until it reaches its peak at around 6 - 8am. This rise in cortisol level helps us to get going in the morning. Coffee also has the effect of raising cortisol levels. Stress also raises cortisol levels which is why unresolved stress can often lead to insomnia. It would be interesting to know how cortisol patterns are with people who adopt a different sleep cycle. Should one worry if one gets less than the often quoted 7 to 8 hours, probably not, unless it is connected to high levels of stress. Long term stress is very damaging to the body, resulting in weight gain, particularly abdominal fat, impairs cognitive and emotional functioning, and results in a state of exhaustion. Dealing with stress levels are important to getting not just the right quantity of sleep, but the right amount of quality sleep. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/


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    Richard Dykes, Naturopathic Nutritionist


    November 2013
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