If we were to write a modern-day fairy tale about sleep, the storyline would be how the princess was robbed of going to sleep. She would be a reflection of our society. You and I are constantly telling ourselves to wake up, and this is exactly what would happen in this fairy tale. There would be no wicked stepmother, oh no, but rather a little troll in the form of work or a job or chore that would say, just as she was dozing off, “Sleeping Beauty, wake up! There is still more to do.” And where is Prince Charming in all of this? Probably too tired to help her out! Of course I’m fusing a couple of fairy tales together. We never saw Sleeping Beauty do work, that was left up to Cinderella, but I think you get the point.
How important is sleep? I was recently asked this question at one of our Parnters in Health and Wholeness trainings. Harvard Medical School researchers say that sleep is one of the basic building blocks of health, just like healthy eating and exercise. They also say that we need to rethink how we prioritize sleep. How powerful! Below are more of their findings:
· After learning a new skill adequate sleep helps to improve memory and performance of that skill.
· Sleep makes you feel better
· Muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.
· Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to a number of illnesses including cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and stroke, but also diabetes among others.
· Studies show that people who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep don’t live as long as people who do.
· Animals deprived entirely of sleep lose their immune function and die within a few weeks.
You can read more on this list as well as view other benefits of sleep and consequences of inadequate sleep in a short (6:13) video from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School here or visit the website here.
–Joy Williams, PHW Regional Consultant
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the NC Council of Churches. Please visit our website to view more resources on health and faith http://healthandwholeness.org/.