For many kids sleep is seen as a 4-letter-word. I know my three elementary-aged kids really despise hearing "it's bedtime" each night. I haven't quite figured out when the switch happens. Teenagers, although they don't usually like to go to bed early, seem to love sleeping. But babies, toddlers and elementary children tend to be a whole different story. Going to bed is pure torture. Some nights our neighbors probably think an exorcism is going on next door based on the shrieks and cries that come from our children's bedrooms at bedtime. And, what is with the unquenchable thirst and overactive bladder issues that automatically kick in 30 seconds after they lay down each night?
Children are well-oiled machines when it comes to depriving their caretakers of sleep, aren't they?! I certainly have experienced my fair share of terrible, no good, very bad nights of sleep since becoming a parent. It's a good thing we love them so much, right :) I shouldn't even get started on daylight savings time, but I'm going to anyway. Turning the clocks back. As a teenager and childless adult, the "Fall Back" of the clocks was one of my favorite days of the year. I'd wake up and look at the clock (which did not automatically set itself back like so many do nowadays), remember it was actually an hour earlier, smile, close my eyes, and go back to sleep to catch that extra hour of rest. Such was the case this year.
If you have little people living under your roof, you understand the curse that is daylight savings. Instead of waking up at 5:45AM, your child is ready to go for the day at 4:45AM. Yay for us! In all seriousness, though, sleep is so incredibly important. In fact, I discovered that not getting enough regular sleep was a big part of the reason my adrenal system crashed last Fall. Sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. Studies repeatedly show that people who do not get quality sleep or who do not sleep enough are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep also affects how quickly you're able to recover from acute illness. This is because during sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. According to Mayo Clinic doctor Eric J. Olson, M.D., "Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep."
So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease and other chronic conditions. But just how much sleep is needed to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep, and school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep. It is so important for us to not only model this, but also to teach those in our care about the importance of sleep. I've found that when my children understand the "why" behind my requests they are much more willing to obey with a happy heart. It looks like we are in need of a science lesson today after school on cytokines. Hoping this will be my ticket to a pleasant bedtime routine tonight!
If you have not been prioritizing sleep in your own life, I'd strongly encourage you to make that change. It is amazing how many body systems are positively impacted by simply going to bed at a regular time each night and getting 7-9 hours each night. Adrenals, hormones, digestion, emotional/mental health--they are all interconnected, and sleep is a really big part of achieving optimum health in these areas. If you're having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, a magnesium deficiency may be something to look into. Personally, I love magnesium bath flakes. Just 3 baths per week can lead to some really restful sleep. Stop in to Simply Nourished and one of our Team members can show you how to use the bath flakes. Open Monday through Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4.