Slide 10 of 15
Let's talk about sleep. Personally, I think that sleep is the most important thing for our health. I even think it is more important than nutrition. Here's another way to think about it. You could go 60 days without eating, but you can't go 4 days without sleep. What is adequate sleep? It looks like 8 hours is about average for most of us. Sometimes it's a little more, rarely less, although in the elderly it may be less. Let the body determine when it's had enough sleep. If you can, the best thing you can do for your sleep cycle is to get rid of your alarm clock. If you do get up too early, you're going to have a sleep deficit, as well as a dream deficit, that you will have to make up at some future time. In times of these deficits, when allowed, you will sleep longer and correct both the sleep and dream deficits. You have to do that, to get back to a normal sleep cycle.
Sleep is necessary for growth, healing, and avoiding anxiety. Who is happy and cheerful when they get too little sleep? Adequate sleep prevents and minimizes pain; it is essential for the successful management of fibromyalgia (as is exercise), but also for other chronic pain syndromes. It helps the gut. It gives our gut a fast. It allows the food digest to leave the stomach and upper intestine to further digestion and absorption, and allow the body to re-enter the fasting state. This is all part of the body's normal daily rhythm (circadian rhythm). It is a sort-of "reset" for the GI tract, which resumes its active function the following day upon refeeding. When is the best bowel movement of the day? In most people, after breakfast or sometimes early in the morning upon awakening. Because it's after a fast. Things that need doing during sleep have had a chance. You need dreams. If you don't dream, you go crazy. Not to sleep is a form of torture. We need not torture ourselves from sleep deprivation. A regular sleep-wake cycle is the way to go. It's not like you can catch an hour here and 4 hours there or sleep from 8 AM to 4 PM and think it's going to be the same as sleeping overnight. When darkness falls, the rest of the animal world gets off their feet and go to sleep, and that's what we need too.
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