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How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? March 24, 2017 19:53 1 Comment

In this world we are admired for busyness which has been a gripe of mine for ages now (My Year of No). Every minute of the day should be accounted for and used “productively”. We are encouraged to constantly accrue material wealth and possessions at any cost. Things are made cheaper and faster so we can amass as much as we possibly can. It doesn’t matter the consequences, and it doesn’t matter the debt. In our efforts to keep up, we drive ourselves deeper and deeper into a place where we owe so much that it becomes impossible to repay.

This sort of mindset doesn’t make it easy to sleep at night. The stress caused is extreme, largely unnecessary, and we end up in a downward spiral of accumulated sleep debt.

Whether or not we commit to a healthy diet and regular exercise, we are all aware of how important they are to our well-being. What we often set aside though, is the importance of sleep. We need to understand that sleep is like nutrition and we have a required daily allowance.

Why Is Sleep Important? 

We don’t yet know everything there is to know about the importance of sleep, but we do know that it is essential for memory, brain development and cognitive function.

Sleep deprivation also wreaks havoc on your health. One of the primary reasons for this is because it is essential for your metabolism.

Metabolism

I’ve used the word metabolism so often, but only recently have I learnt what a fascinating process it is.

Simply put, the body digests food into compounds (amino acids, fatty acids and sugar), which can then be transported through the blood to the cells. Metabolism is the process whereby the cell converts those compounds into energy, and disposes of the metabolic waste.

In order to maintain homeostasis or balance, the cell adjusts to its environment and external conditions.

According to Forbes, a normal adult needs 7-8 hours sleep every 24 hours for effective metabolic waste removal.

When we’re in sleep debt, our cells aren’t able to maintain the balance necessary and we become susceptible to the following:

  1. Diabetes

The body isn’t able to properly control insulin and glucose and even one night of insufficient sleep can lead to glucose dysregulation.

  1. Increased appetite

The appetite centre is controlled by 2 hormones, one which suppresses your appetite (ghrelin) and one which promotes a feeling of hunger (leptin). During the sleep cycle, these hormones balance themselves out as needed. When we’re sleep deprived, ghrelin is reduced and leptin increased, so we tend to eat more when we’re tired.

In addition, studies have shown that subjects tend to crave high carbohydrate foods.

  1. Compromised immune system

There is a strong relationship between good, restorative sleep and maintaining the immune system. Sleep deprivation is also linked to daytime inflammatory mediators.

  1. Increased Hypertension

Ever noticed how short your fuse is when you haven’t slept enough? Your blood pressure is significantly increased when you sleep for less than 5 hours.

  1. Symptoms of Depression

Insomnia has a strong link to depression, and people diagnosed with anxiety or depression are more likely to struggle sleeping. The one feeds off the other, creating a vicious cycle.

  1. Premature ageing

Sleep loss increases the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which decreases the collagen in the skin. The body also releases less of the human growth hormone.

     7. Hair Loss

The increased levels of stress that result from the lack of sleep, and the reduced capacity for normal cellular functioning, may result in conditions of hair loss or thinning hair as well. Click here for more information.

 

Finally, here is the breakdown of how much sleep you need:

  • 0 to 3 months of age: 14 to 17 hours
  • 4 to 11 months of age: 12 to 15 hours
  • 1 to 2 years of age: 11 to 14 hours
  • 3 to 5 years of age: 10 to 13 hours
  • 6 to 13 years of age: 9 to 11 hours
  • 14 to 17 years of age: 8 to 10 hours
  • 18 to 25 years of age: 7 to 9 hours
  • 26 to 64 years of age: 7 to 9 hours
  • 65 and older: 7 to 8 hours

So when you’re drawing up your to-do list during your night time routine , remember to add sleep into your schedule and treat it as a priority. Then take great joy in ticking it off in the morning!


8 Things You Didn't Know About Claudia Moruzzi March 14, 2017 17:40

Currently I’m sitting in Camps Bay visiting friends, with a panoramic view of the ocean which keeps distracting me from my work. And what a glorious thing to be distracted by!

It was my 41st birthday last week and I thought it a good idea to take stock. I find I tend to be really hard on myself, always wanting to do more and more, that I never pause to consider what I have already achieved, what I really love and what makes me, well, me.

So it’s quite obvious I love sleep and I’m a designer, but here are a few other things you may not know about me…

 

  1. I’m really good at mimicking animal sounds. Granted it’s not a very useful skill these days, but maybe in a zombie apocalypse it’ll come in handy. My specialties are horses, hadidas and monkeys. And even though they’re not strictly part of the animal kingdom, I do a really great banshee.
  2. I’m vegan and a teensy bit of a kitchen nerd. Often when I’ve been to a restaurant and really loved a dish, I sit and try to figure out the ingredients and try to recreate it at home. I also love having dinner guests over. My favourites are hardened meat eaters. I love it when the meal is so delicious that they don’t even realize they haven’t eaten any flesh!
  3. I practice Indian classical singing. I have a background in performing arts and after a long break, I decided to take up a few related skills. Having had singing training in Western music, I find the subtle differences absolutely fascinating and incredibly challenging. I love the sense of peace the music evokes in me.
  4. On the other end of the scale, I take pole dancing classes. With my dance training I always felt that my legs were very strong and trustworthy, but my upper body was quite weak. I cannot bear the idea of going to gym, so I thought pole dancing would be the answer. It’s ended up being one of my greatest joys. It’s fantastic to see how your muscles respond and strengthen from the time when you first start trying out a trick, to mastering it and defying gravity.
  5. I studied sugar art and can make tiny, delicate flowers out of sugar paste. In fact, I love all things baking and decorating. Any chance I get, I bake birthday or special events cakes. Whether they’re wanted or not!
  6. I have a weird love of country and bluegrass music. Don’t ask me where on earth this came from. I can’t explain it, and I don’t often admit to it. But you know what they say…a problem shared is a problem halved!
  7. I’m really awkward at parties. I’m the weirdo in the corner too tongue-tied to make conversation with anyone. I’m envious of people who walk into a room with absolute confidence and are able to engage with anyone. It’s a skill I really wish I had. Perhaps I should’ve spent more time socializing in my teens than reading.
  8. I used to steal my mother’s garlic. I come from an Italian family, so garlic is a big part of my life. I would take garlic from the kitchen and hide it in my bedside drawer. It drove my mom crazy that she never had garlic when she needed it, and when tidying my room one day, she found my stash. Why I was stockpiling, I couldn’t tell you. And I certainly have no idea what I intended to do with it. If I could go back in time, that’s one thing I’d really like to find out!

 

So after that really long ramble about myself, I’d really love to know what makes you, you. Comment and share!