There’s hardly a day that goes by when we aren’t bombarded with another medical report concerning the dangers of not getting enough sleep.
We’ve been told that unless we get enough sleep we will become obese because the hormone that suppresses appetite is produced only during sleep.
Lack of sleep leads to premature aging, loss of libido, inability to concentrate, high blood pressure, depression (or is it that depression leads to insomnia?) etc etc and now we hear from Bob Stickgold from the Harvard Medical School that people who have slept have a better recall of facts than those who haven’t. In other words, an all night study marathon will not be of any benefit for a student. He would do better(25% better)to have a good sleep before an exam.
Isn’t it amazing how attitudes have changed! I remember when we were being warned not to spend too long sleeping because it would lead to obesity. Now the opposite is being spouted and I have to wonder who is correct. How much sleep is enough sleep? We are even being advised to catch a nap during the day.
At this rate we’ll only be getting out of bed to change the bedlinen and grab a bite to eat.
Now I agree that sleep is crucial and heaven knows I would love to cure my insomnia with or without the scientific backing that says it’s good for my health.
But what I really would like to know is not why sleep is important, but how to have some of it.
I’ve read the advice about getting enough exercise during the day but not during the four hours before bedtime. I’ve read that one shouldn’t get too excited before bed, so I went to the library and borrowed some sagas about the early days of Australian colonisation e.g “The Secret River” by Kate Grenville. I even borrowed some of my husband’s accounting text books which are the literary equivalent of chloroform.
I lie in a darkened room waiting for sleep, trying not to think about sleep because worrying about it (Stanford University stresses that one must not worry about it) is only going to keep me awake.
I think about my body getting fatter and fatter with each passing hour because I’m stopping it from producing leptin. I try to ignore my rising blood pressure as I go through the motions of bidding goodnight to each part of my body from my twinkle toes to my wide open eyes and I curse the research that has failed to answer the most important thing I want to know.
Now before you suggest I try a sleep clinic, pardon my scepticism, but from what I’ve heard they are too keen to diagnose sleep apnoea so that they can sell you a contraption. I’m extremely concerned about the plethora of clinics springing up all over the place and run by doctors who are only general practitioners and not specialists in the field.
There are heart clinics who will give you an ECG and send you to a doctor if there is anything wrong. All this on the National Health scheme. And the same goes for erectile dysfunction clinics and even skin cancer clinics whose methods should be investigated and strictly monitored.
But I digress. Alas, poor concentration and rambling on is another effect of insomnia and I know I suffer from all of them.
Long is the night and morning comes at last. The waiting is over.