By Caitlin Kelly
Yet another snowstorm!
This has been a brutally cold and snowy winter for the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, with millions losing power as trees shatter and fall on power lines. Every week has brought more ice, snow and shoveling of same.
The best bet for anyone who can?
It’s becoming ever clearer that getting a full, deep night’s sleep is essential to health, mental and physical.
From the U.S. Dept.of Health and Human Services:
Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.
Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.
Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.
Boy, do I know this firsthand.
The only time I’ve been utterly sleep-deprived — as I’ve never cared for small infants who need multiple night-time feedings — was when I got pneumonia in March 2007 and spent three days in the hospital. It’s a terrible disease that fills your lungs with fluid that you cough up and out, hour after hour after hour.
Some people break ribs from coughing so hard.
All you want to do, and need to do to heal, is sleep. But your poor weary body won’t let you.
We need to rest.
We need to sleep.
One of my favorite things to do, as I’ve written here before, is to fall asleep by candlelight and to light low candles in the morning’s darkness to slowly and calmly wake up. (As someone who works from home, and with no children or pets to care for, my schedule is very much my own, unlike most people’s.)
The very worst choice is something many of us now do — read on a blue-lit screen of some sort before bed or during the night. It physiologically shocks us back awake, even if we don’t want it.
I’ve been napping more this winter than ever before.
Maybe it’s a low-level depression.
Maybe I’m not sleeping as well each night as I need to.
But every afternoon around 3:30, unless I’m fully committed to something else, I snuggle beneath the duvet or a throw, fluff up my pillow, and disappear for an hour or so.
It’s a great luxury, I know, to be able to re-charge my batteries during a workday.
I also know what a bear I am when I don’t get enough zzzzzz’s!