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Top five reasons to get the good stuff

It’s important to get good sleep. I know that, you know that—everyone knows that. But we don’t do it. It’s…

By Monica Tanaka , in Insomniac , on January 20, 2009 Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s important to get good sleep. I know that, you know that—everyone knows that.

But we don’t do it. It’s not a priority. There are a million other things that have to be done first, so we tell ourselves.

I’d like to make a case for pushing sleep to the top of your priority list. I’m talking about getting more deep, undisrupted, restorative sleep.

Here are the top 5 reasons to get the good stuff

(5) Cut back on caffeine and the voices will stop

To all the students: you know what I’m talking about. Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, those wonders that keep us going, are bad for sleep. Caffeine increases your response to stress because cortisol, a stress hormone, is in part, regulated by caffeine. This applies mainly to hard-core coffee and tea drinkers. But now there’s an added reason to cut back on trips to Timmy’s.

A recent study has found that people who drink more than seven cups of coffee a day are more likely to hallucinate. When you start hearing voices at the library it might be because you drank too much coffee. Or maybe it’s because you’ve been there for 12 hours.

It’s easy math. You’ll hit two birds with one stone if you drop your caffeine intake. Not only will those late-night library freak-out sessions stop, you’ll probably sleep better too.

(4) Sleep because you can. Some people who can’t, die

I don’t mean to be alarmist. I’m trying to cultivate a greater appreciation for sleep. It’s something we neglect and disregard, until one night, we can’t. I came across a story on sleep disorders that I found surprising.

You can die from lack of sleep.

These disorders are rare (I can’t emphasis that more) and come with disturbing names such as ‘Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome’. It seems to afflict South East Asian refugees for unclear reasons. Fatal Familial Insomnia is a genetic disease, for which these is no known cure, ends in death seven months to three years after onset.

(3) You’ll accomplish more in your day

Needless to say, poor sleep will affect your productivity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten up in the wee hours, turned on the T.V. and watched re-runs of Friends. Friends isn’t funny. I’d rather see a miniature horse ride a car, eat a burger and fetch a cold beer. But you’ll regret it the next day when your boss is on your case for being sluggish.

(2) It’s a positive step towards losing weight

For those of you with a sweet-tooth, your indulgence in delectable chocolates may keep you from stepping on the scale. Who knows what you’ll see.

You might not have to cut chocolate out entirely, but you should at least stop eating it before bed. A story in the New York Times reports that chocolate can disrupt sleep. Dark chocolate in particular, contains caffeine and other stimulants that can keep you up at night.

(1) Sleep protects against the common cold

Finally, there’s evidence that poor sleep makes one more susceptible to colds.

Recent research has shown that getting less than seven or eight hours of restful sleep makes you three times more likely to catch a cold.

What’s worse, the scientists found that if you have poor quality sleep (defined as spending less than 92% of your time in bed actually sleeping) then you’re five and half times more likely to come down with a cold.

So it’s the combined factors of sleep quality, and quantity, that can affect your immune system’s response to a viral attack.

I spent just about half of my Christmas holiday in bed, stricken by a horrible snot- and fever- inducing virus. I chuckle when I think that I could have avoided it by sleeping longer and better. Ironically, isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about?