Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sleep On It: The Restorative Power of Sleep

Having just been on Spring Break, all thoughts ultimately lead to sleep: sleeping in, catching up on sleep, and taking a nap.  I think teachers are uniformly programmed to think this way, come this time of year.

Then there's Daylight Saving Time and losing that hour.  Man, that always hurts.  (But, in a "hurt so good" sort of way as dusk comes later, making it feel like summer is on its way!)

Who knew: there's a fabulous follow-up to turning that clock back--the Monday following Daylight Savings Time was National Napping Day, which apparently is a real thing.  How awesome is that!

Sleep is one of those things that as a kid, I remember never wanting to go to bed, for fear of missing something.  Now, it's that elusive thing we never quite get enough of.  Yet, it's vital for so many of our systemic and daily functions.

The importance of sleep has recently cropped up in three of the podcasts I listen to, with the entire episode for each dedicated to the secrets of sleep:
Then, of course, there's always information from NIH as to the benefits of sleep.

Given we all know the emotional, restorative, safety, and brain benefits of getting enough sleep, it begs the question:  Why aren't we getting more?  Our Type A, worker-bee modes are to blame.  

But adults alone aren't the only victims of being under-nourished in the sleep department.  Case and point is an interesting post I ran across on Treehugger by Katherine Martinko entitled "When Kids Are Losing Sleep, It's Time to Rethink How We Parent."  The culprits to killing kids' sleep are many: over-scheduled calendars, TV & the growing tech addiction, sugar over-saturation, irregular bedtime routines, school stressors, and lack of good ole playing outside with all the fresh air & sunshine that comes with that.  When time-on-tech averages are starting rival slumberland, that's a problem.

In case you were uncertain as to how much sleep we need (at all the ages), check out this graphic:

The National Wildlife Federation published the document below entitled "Green Time for Better Sleep Time and an article on the importance of getting outdoors to help improve sleep--for all, but especially for children. The three big ways the great outdoors helps even-out the sleep biorhythms:
  1. Nature light increases daytime alertness and moods, which brings about the zzzz's at night much better for one's body clock.
  2. Nature has a way of de-stressing like no other, from sights the sights and sounds of time outdoors.  Along those lines, it build concentration as well.
  3. Exercise is always good for endorphins, and the whole body physical side of outdoor play helps even more.  Physical exertion is great for leading to exhaustion.

So, you have some homework assignments:
  • A little green reading of "Green Time For Sleep Time" above; 
  • A few podcasts to listen to;
  • Play outside, no matter what your age;
  • Then go get yourself in your PJ's and go get some sleep!!

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