My head has been in a cloud, and not the bright fluffy kind. Instead of getting an annual common cold, or flu, I always get a sinus infection every February-like clock work. I initially thought that I would continue to write posts about health, fitness, positivity, or something creative while I was on bed rest, but that was short lived.
It felt like my head was stuffed with cotton, and stopped my creative process dead in its tracks. A cloudy mind, produces cloudy thoughts. So I chose to take a break and nurture myself and I think that made all the difference. My sinuses were not as severe this year as they were in previous years. Perhaps my body was warning me to pause for a moment to simply regain focus.
Like most bloggers, and writers, I spend a lot of time on the internet. A common joke with family and friends of mine is that you can find me on the internet at any given time. I am constantly reading, researching, and simply quenching my thirst for knowledge. But it comes at a cost. Journalist Rob Stein of the Washington Post shares: “A large, new study, for example, provides the latest in a flurry of evidence suggesting that the nation’s obesity epidemic is being driven, at least in part, by a corresponding decrease in the average number of hours that Americans are sleeping, possibly by disrupting hormones that regulate appetite.”
Sleep is as essential to a healthy lifestyle as a nutritious diet, and exercise. They all go hand in hand. While some people view sleeping as a waste of time, it is vital to your health. Sleep is when our body takes the time to repair itself. Perhaps you can compare it to when a computer has to perform system updates. Until updates have taken place, the system continues to show alerts on your screen and it will only allow you to hit “Snooze” for long until it affects your computer’s performance.
When it comes to our bodies, we are required to perform system updates every day for 8-10 hours. Although there are many theories on why sleep is essential, scientists are still searching for concrete answers. Until then, we have theories such as the following ones provided by Harvard University:
- The Inactivity Theory suggests that sleep is an adapted survival method by animals; this later evolved to what we now know as sleep.
- The Energy Conservation Theory is believed to be a function on reducing energy during times when not hunting for food. Although we generally do not hunt for our food, I would say our energy is basically being conserved for daily performances.
- The Restorative Theory supports the idea of restoring the energy that we expel daily. This theory considers sleep to be a period of repair and rejuvenation. This theory is further supported by “findings that many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep”.
- The Brain Plasticity Theory is considered to be the most recent theory whose studies reflect “sleep is correlated to changes in the structure and organization of the brain”. This theory connects our learning and functionality capabilities to sleep and sleep deprivation.
I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I am not able to fully function, or think clearly, without adequate sleep. The older I get, the more important sleep becomes. In my teens and twenties, I was able to stay up all night, and party and still go to school and work the next day without any problems. Now that I am in my thirties, sleep has not only become more important to me, my body demands it. Without sufficient rest, my body starts developing symptoms such as headaches, and migraines. My body feels sluggish and heavy, my thoughts are cloudy, my mood is crabby and ultimately, my body shuts down.
These symptoms are comparable to what happens when we continue “snoozing” on the system updates on our computer. Eventually, the computer will stop running as efficiently, and can possibly lock up. Updating our system and ensuring that our virus protection is maintained will help keep our systems working correctly.
My sinuses sent out a mild alarm to my body to slow down, rest, and invest in my health and I’m glad I listened. This morning I woke up to the sun peering through the cloudiness of my mind. I anticipate bright and sunny skies soon approaching.
Reboot your system!
If you are interested in learning more about sleep, please enjoy and find more information on the articles I used for this post!
Article by Rob Stein: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/08/AR2005100801405.html
Harvard University study: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep