Getting enough good quality sleep is a cornerstone of maintaining good health and resilience. The list of benefits that we get from sleep is long and growing longer all the time. Yet, sleep deprivation is a very real and persistent problem in our modern culture.
Even when we try to get sleep, it sometimes eludes us. While that can stem from a variety of reasons, a very important one is how our circadian rhythm is affected by natural and artifical light.
Life can be busy, even when you're on sabbatical! Over the last month, I've been exploring different ways to recalibrate my energy and increase my resiliency.
In a nutshell, this means avoiding unnecessary stress (that stimulates the sympathetic or "fight or flight" response), and intentionally engaging in practices that bring calm, steady energy (that stimulates the parasympathetic or "rest and digest" response).
We live in a sleep-deprived culture. Although the National Institute of Health recommends 7-8 hours of sleep each night for adults, many of us don't get that. A 2009 U.S. survey found that more than a third (35.3%) of adults reported less than 7 hours of sleep, and that even more (37.9%) reported falling asleep unintentionally at least once during the prior month. The CDC has gone so far as to call our collective lack of sleep a public health emergency.
It's not just that poor sleep makes us cranky. It also makes us more accident prone and more susceptible to chronic diseases.