It seems July and come to think of it this entire year is on some Usain Bolt type ish, its going so fast and here we are a few days away from the last one third of the year. Weren’t we all just screaming Happy New Year like 2 days ago?
I was so grateful to get lots of feedback from you guys on the last post, thanks for taking the time to read it. I must however reiterate that my posts are accounts of MY experiences with certain issues, in the case of this last one it was insomnia. The journey differs from person to person, the general effects on the body may be similar but its severity could vary depending on the individual, their overall health, if they are dealing with a disease which could exacerbate things, medication they may be taking, pregnancy, age etc.
The purpose of this blog in its entirety is two-fold for me, firstly I find writing therapeutic and its an outlet for me to relieve whatever stress I may be dealing with and secondly to give a little insight in to my journey and why I have chosen integrative medicine (a blend of natural therapies and remedies with western/conventional medicine) in managing my thyroid function related issues and overall well-being, as well as why this choice has proven beneficial for me, the challenges I’ve faced and what I’ve learned along the way. Not all my experiences were pleasant as evidenced in my last post, but not all were terrible either, some were amusing, enlightening or just downright hilarious while others were a complete and utter waste of time, money and energy. But they’ve all brought me to where I am right now, not 100% perfect or problem free but in a good place where I seem to have found the right balance of what does and doesn’t work for me at this time, things can change, hopefully for the better.
Case in point, I’ve stopped trying to force myself to sleep when I go to bed, the harder I tried the more elusive it got. Nowadays, I work till like 6 pm, watch TV till I am bored, If I have unfinished work I’ll do that or just faff around till around 3-4 am when I’ll fall asleep at some point and wake up between 10 am-noon so I get 6-9 hours of sleep, some days more than others. I also try as much as possible to find a way to pay off my “sleep debts” which is basically sleeping an extra few hours on some days to make up for the inadequate amount I may have gotten on previous days. Something I’ve found helpful is to not to go to the bedroom until you are drowsy or fully prepared to sleep, so one kind of mentally associates the bed(room) with a full shut down; learned that little nugget in sleep therapy (yeah, I did that too). My sleep schedule is neither practical nor ideal, but I’ve accepted myself as a nocturnal being, I no longer fight it, because it works for me, I guess it just is what it is.
There are however some symptoms that are consistent in most cases of chronic sleep deprivation which we need to be on the lookout for and their effects on the various body systems.
The thing is, when we sleep the brain forges new connections which help process and retain new information, so a prolonged lack of sleep negatively affects both short and long-term memory. Sleep deprivation also weakens the pre-frontal cortex in the brain responsible for reasoning and the amygdala which regulates emotions, when this happens it can create an inability to process emotions normally that can lead to mood swings, irritability, increase anxiety and even cause depression. Also, it negatively affects the body’s ability to release the necessary hormones which regulate growth and appetite, e.g. it reduces the secretion of leptin which tells your brain you’re full and don’t need any more food but increases that of ghrelin which is an appetite stimulant (guess this explains my inexplicable hunger late at night and the seemingly uncontrollable need I get to snack around 2 am).
It also makes the body release too much norepinephrine, cortisol and other stress hormones which may cause you to become too fatigued to exercise during the day all contributory factors to weight gain. Research indicates that for every 1 hr deducted from the recommended sleep time at each stage, it can cause an increase of 0.35 kg in body weight, increasing susceptibility to hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes etc.
Quite serious to note is that you could be a danger to yourself and others should you attempt to drive after staying up for up to 16 hours because not only are your reflexes and concentration impaired, you could also be having “microsleeps” which you have no control over. Which one is microsleep again you ask? I’ll explain: When you have been awake too long, your brain in its infinite wisdom and need for self-preservation takes the sleep you have denied it by taking short naps. Your eyes will stay open and you may appear conscious but, in all actuality, you are asleep and unable to process external stimulation or sensory information for short periods of time. Do you remember that time someone said they’d been speaking to you for a while and you were just staring into space? Yeah, that could have been a microsleep or you possibly were just plain old daydreaming.
It could get worse, sleep deprivation has been linked not only to psychosomatic health issues where you feel pain in certain areas of your body when there actually is nothing physically wrong with you, but you feel it and no one can tell you that you are fine because you don’t feel alright, it is all in your head because you are tired. It has also been linked to some mental issues like general disorientation, where you are unaware of your surroundings or time and forget how you got where you are, the date, time etc. You could also begin to hallucinate and see things that aren’t there or even develop paranoia which is when you convince yourself of enemies or persecutors where there are none, a general feeling that someone is out to get you which can be scary but is also all in your mind (also known in Africa as village people have come).
As things get worse, you’ll find yourself increasingly unable to think positively, become more impatient and nasty to the people around you, more willing to quickly jump on the “demons and witches” bandwagon, unable to prioritize or plan properly, more disorganized, exhibit poor judgement, take unnecessary risks and unable to think long term but instead seek instant gratification etc. when it gets totally out of hand it can lead to having suicidal thoughts not to even go into the detrimental effects on the immune, cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine and immune systems.
When it comes to the skin which as we all know is the body’s largest organ, the effects of sleep deprivation can be glaring e.g. wrinkles, bags under the eyes, larger pores, dryness, dark circles etc. and other visible signs of premature aging. Rejuvenation and regeneration is accelerated while we sleep which is why the proper nighttime skin regimen is so important as it can be more effective during this time.
When the body doesn’t get enough time to rest and reboot, all organs including the skin don’t get enough of what they need to heal and recharge from all wear and tear they have undergone during the day. This has also been linked to immune irregularity and inflammation which can cause breakouts, irritation, dullness etc. So, if you are prone to acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea etc. insufficient sleep will only make it worse and it can also affect your hair’s ability to grow properly and the health of your nails causing them to be brittle, weak and prone to breaking.
Sleep is so important that sleeping less than 6 hours each night, 2 days in a row can cause you to be sluggish and not as alert as usual for over 6 days, which could affect your relationships, job, studies and ability to effectively carry out responsibilities.
One simple sure-fire way of knowing for a fact you’re not getting enough sleep is that constant sleepiness and yawning (so embarrassing, especially when you’re trying to form professional). For you to stay alert, have optimal cognitive, mental and physical health, do your job properly and efficiently, maintain the important relationships in your life while staying fresh, juicy, youthful with your skin and hair radiating and glowing with health, you absolutely get enough sleep, it's called "beauty sleep" for a reason.
I hope you understand how important it is for you to put that phone or tablet down, shut that laptop off, breathe in, relax and get some sleep. You must take care of yourself, so you'll be here for a long time and not as a shell of yourself in a constant sleep deprived, unhealthy, zombie like state but as your best self, your loved ones are counting on having you in their lives for a long time.
Next post I'll give tell you about some therapies I’ve tried, some are still on my bucket list, the kind of things you can do or try, and subtle or major lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your sleep.
Our 2018 annual blowout sale starts tonight!! Bring on the trumpets and break out the dancing, because we’ve changed things up quite a lot. This will be our one sale of 2018, so we have made things interesting. During the sale you can shop 1 dram (3.75 ml) and 5 ml options of our more luxurious oils, we also created several product bundles with specially curated oils for various issues at even deeper discounts to save you the trouble of wondering what goes well with what. If you are an existing newsletter subscriber or site member you get even better savings, just check your inbox for your V.I.P discount code.
Well, it’s time for me to go and begin my Saturday night TV binge fest, so till we speak again, don't forget to share this post or drop a comment on your thoughts, questions etc. I do love chatting with you but there's a possibility your question or insight may help or enlighten another reader, you wouldn’t want them to miss out on that now would you?
We only have one body, when we treat it well it returns the favor.
Be good to yourself and others.
Until we chat again,
Peace & Love
Photo: Brandon Barwich