Health and wellness isn’t merely the absence of disease or infirmity but rather the presence of awareness that comes from a balanced state of being. The whole can only be as well as its parts, a cohesion of mind/body/spirit. Resting the mind, replenishing the body, and rejuvenating the soul provides the optimal synergy for health and wellness. And it all begins with a good night’s rest. Sleep, is that mysterious realm behind the curtain of conscious reality we visit every night. I use to think of sleep as a means to an end. You go to sleep to wake-up. What happens in between is mystery. So why is sleep so important? According to Harvard Medical studies, sleep is a primary staple to health and wellness. Just as we require food to fuel our bodies, we require sleep to recharge. It’s when the mind unplugs and the body uploads its healing power.
But do I really need 8-hours?
After conducting controlled sleep studies, the National Sleep Association reported their findings. They concluded that the recommended hours for adults ages 18-64 were 7-9 hours, while adults 64 and over were 7-8. Nevertheless, just getting the recommended dosage doesn’t guarantee we’re entering the optimal healing zone of Delta sleep. Although researchers are still debating the benefits each stage of sleep has on an individual, most agree that Delta brain wave activity (SWS), is the most restorative. Since everyone’s sleep patterns vary, how do we know if we’re getting Delta wave sleep? I can only attest to my sleep pattern. I know when I have caught the backdoor of a Delta wave. Usually I wake and find my face buried in a drool soaked pillow. But the most effective avenue is eliminating— or at the very least minimizing— stress levels and your intake of stimulants before bedtime, such as sugar, coffee, and alcohol which tend to impede the brain’s ability to secrete its natural sleep aid, melatonin. The other area is visual stimulants like TV and the computer. Another is light. Melatonin only secretes at night or when we’re exposed to total darkness. Even those telltale lights coming from your cable box can affect the body’s release of melatonin. So an hour before bed, turn the TV and computers off, cover your cable box, take a quiet moment for meditation, and enjoy a good night’s rest. Sleep. It does a mind and body good.