The Lifecycle of Sleep
Sleep goes in cycles – through the night and through our lives.
When we’re first born – if our parents are lucky – we spend most of our time sleeping. Babies pretty much just sleep, eat, poop and look cute. About 30 minutes of cooing and we have our parents wrapped around our baby fingers.
At some point, we turn into toddlers, also incredibly cute, but a lot busier. We still take naps, sometimes in bed, but we can still pretty much sleep anywhere, high chair, car seat, Major League Baseball game.
Somewhere between being a toddler and a little kid, we decide sleep is for babies. We still get tired – lots of growing and exploring can wear out a little dude – but we resist naps and bedtime like they’re coated in castor oil. We run, we whine, we wiggle, we ask for water and trips to the bathroom.
Sleeping As Adults
By the time we’re teens, this turns completely around. We stay up all night and sleep all day. We’re like moody bats, night creatures with ravenous appetites that emerge from our rooms only to seek food or leave. This trend usually continues through college.
By the time we get our first full-time job, we have rediscovered life before noon and bed before midnight. When our own babies arrive, our lives begin to revolve around sleep again – and whether we’re catching any zzzzz’s at all.
By middle age, Sunday afternoon naps become part of our week, and by the time we reach retirement we sleep as often and as long as we want.
During one night, we can go in and out of deep sleep just as many times. A lot of things can affect our sleep besides our age – things like environment, stress and medication.
Getting regular sleep helps keep us healthier, maintain weight, reduce stress, improves mood and think more clearly.
Tips for Sleeping Well
World Sleep Society recommends:
- Have fixed bedtimes and a regular time to wake up
- Don’t take more than a 45-minute nap during the day
- Avoid excessive alcohol 4 hours before bedtime and don’t smoke
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime
- Avoid spicy, sugary and heavy food 4 hours before bedtime
- Exercise regularly, just not right before bed
- Get comfortable bedding
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Center
Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas
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