The Importance of Sleep


What is the most foundational component of lifestyle choices that are the most beneficial to the human body?  Relationships? Exercise? Nutrition?  Although these components are critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the most important aspect is sleep.  That’s right, SLEEP!  According to Brandon Marcello, PhD, sleep is the foundational component of maintaining and promoting a healthy lifestyle.  Specifically, a study conducted by Goel and colleagues (2009) found that one night of sleep deprivation impairs your ability of conducting executive functions such as decision making, applying strategies, and attention span.  In fact, they found that one night of sleep deprivation impaired executive functioning ability equivalent to an intoxication of 0.10% blood alcohol content (BAC).  Interestingly, it was also found that subjects who only slept 5-6 hours impaired their executive functioning skills equal to a BAC of 0.05%.  In other words, inadequate sleep resulted in the inability to use higher levels of brain function equivalent to being intoxicated on alcohol.  Thus, it is evident that sleep is crucial for the maintenance and function of the brain. 

Now, you must be asking yourself, what is the optimal range for sleep? Ideally, the optimal range for sleep in adults is 7-9 hours and 8-10 hours for teens.  Thus, it is crucial that to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day to protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life. The full 8 hours is a crucial time point because of the cycles REM sleep in comparison with the amount of hours slept. According to the National Sleep Foundation, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is characterized when we dream during our sleep cycle and is shown to have beneficial effects towards memory, learning and mood.  Furthermore, Dr. Marcello reports 2 REM cycles during the first 5 hours of sleep, and an additional 3 REM cycles in the last 3 hours of sleep for an 8 hour sleep cycle.  Thus, it is evident how important and beneficial a full 8 hours of sleep can be. 

With all this knowledge on the importance of sleep, the question becomes how do I get 8 hours of sleep? The answer lies within sleep habits and the sleep environment.  An ideal sleep environment would embody a cool, quiet and dark room.  This can be achieved by turning off all electronic screens prior to bed, having a fan or white noise maker, and using a sleep mask.  An effective tool for adequate sleep habits is embedded within a bedtime routine.  A generic routine could consist of: turning off all electronic screens, listening to relaxing music while stretching out tight muscles, and reading a book for 30-45 minutes.  It is very important that you plan ahead with your bedtime routine and the wake up time.  For example, if your wake-up time is at 6 am, then sleeping should begin at 10 pm. Therefore, allow yourself an hour for your bedtime routine and meaning you should be in your sleep environment by 9pm. 

Overall, it is understood how critical sleep is towards the human body.  It is crucial for maintaining proper physical and mental health, as well as improving the quality of life.  Deprivation of sleep can impair higher levels of functioning in the brain such as decision making.  A full 8 hours of sleep is suggested to ensure more cycles of REM sleep, which is vital for learning, memory and emotional health.  A bedtime routine can be beneficial to establishing healthy sleep habits to facilitate an 8 hour sleep cycle.    

Goel, N., Rao, H., Durmer, J. S., & Dinges, D. F. (2009, September). Neurocognitive consequences of sleep deprivation. In Seminars in neurology (Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 320). NIH Public Access.

 

"Last Sunday I played full court basketball for the first time in 15 years. I will qualify the contest by saying it happened on a court just out of the back door of an elder care center. The teams consisted of a 7 year old, an d8 year old, a young woman in flip-flops (I played in sandals), a woman who proudly stated she was 55 years old (I retorted with my age of 65), and a couple of other young guys that really played well. I ran the court, I played defense, blocked shots, made shots (missed a lot), got lots of rebounds, and talked a lot of smack while playing with a group of people a lot younger than me. I even made a behind the back-twisting fall-away shot, then fell and tumbled on the court. I jumped up and continued to play, and we played for about 45 minutes.
I attribute my ability to play this game that I love so much again to the excellent training receive from Kristy who is a trainer at A2 Physical Therapy. I have worked out and trained since I was very young. I played high school basketball, baseball, and I ran track. I spent 20 years in the Army with all the training requirements associated with that occupation. I played on community and city leagues, and I have trained with weights for many years. The training program Kristy has devised for me at A2 is rigorous, thorough, diverse, fun, challenging, and focused. She prepares workout plans that are age and fitness level appropriate. My work out now is so much different then it was when I first started. She both trains me individually and as a couple. I run, jump, stretch, lift, balance, squat, push, pull, and every other movement you can imagine. I look forward to going to my workout every time. Kristy is completely in charge of every workout. I am retired, and my training at A2 allows me to fill the need to accomplish something positive every day I work out. I am doing physical activity with ease that I would not have thought I would be able be able to accomplish at the age of 65 such as hiking on Mt Rainer and running 4 days per week. Kristy and A2 have really changed my life…"

− William

"I never thought I’d love PT, but now I do! I’m so appreciative that my first Pt experience has been with the most attentive and patient people possible. I’m thrilled the progress I’ve made and feel confident in my ability to continue improving at home. A huge thanks to the entire A2 team for being so welcoming and understanding. I truly can’t offer any recommendations, as you guys have a great thing going. (except for maybe more fruit infused water. Thanks again!"

− K. Paulson

"Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all that you have done to help me get better. What I admire the most is that you have a kind, caring, outstanding staff that not only listens to what is going on with us but goes the extra mile to help each of us achieve our goals. Danny and Alika never, never, never gave up on me and helped me reclaim my life. I love all of you dearly."

− C. Marez