Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting a better night's rest

The Washington Post quotes a survey that many people, for various reasons, are reporting trouble with getting a good night's sleep. Sleep is an important part of normal biological function, helps with recovery, and contributes to proper metabolic function. Not sleeping enough at night can impact a person's ability to think clearly, perform tasks efficiently, affects focus and attention, and it makes you yawn an awful lot!

Sleep- it's good for you!
A excellent research project of the NIH in its Sport's Medicine journal chronicals many of the issues related to interupted sleep patterns as a result of shift work (link for article). Some negative affects of altered behavioral patterns, such as eating at night (mentioned in section 2.2) have links to obesity because of the low metabolic trends during the night hours. As the paper does note, there was some difficulty in gaining access to enough participants to fully study the effects of nocturnal workers versus the behior paterns and exercise habits of a regular work time population. The paper does stress that there is evidence that exercise helps to manage the stress and anxiety in some of their patients and recommends it as part of an overall holistic strategy for a healthy lifestyle.

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep has been recommended for as long as I can find (it's mentioned in the writings of Maimonides, so we are talking almost 900 years of such medical knowledge), but each person has to find the right balance of time based on their activity level. Associciate sleep with recovery time- if you feel refreshed and ready to go after a night's sleep, then you should feel recovered. If waking up is accompanied by muscle tightness, headache, dizziness, etc., then it is time to re-evaluate your schedule.