MU Psych Central – Sleep Deprivation Crisis

Don’t underestimate the benefits of proper sleep

by Nicolle Mayo, PhD – May 2, 2017

Sleep is wildly under-rated in the U.S. We sacrifice sleep at the expense of work, fun, and the demanding pressures of daily living. Sleep, however, should be taken more seriously as a necessity that contributes to our optimal functioning. Sleep allows our body to recover from the wear and tear of stress, physically, mentally, and psychologically. Without it, we suffer. We forget. We can’t learn. We cannot operate productively, or creatively. We risk developing physical illness, and are more prone to injury. Lack of sleep decreases life quality and longevity.

By prioritizing sleep, we are taking measures at providing ourselves the self-care we need to live a full life. Our body naturally takes action to repair and relax muscles, consolidate memories, regulate hormones related to growth, and appetite, and remove toxic byproducts that naturally accumulate in our bodies throughout the day. When we deprive ourselves of this much needed rejuvenation, our ability to make decisions, mood, blood pressure, and medical status remain compromised. Our body starts to shutdown.

Reassuringly, there are many ways we can focus on improving our sleep, beginning with a routine pattern of getting ready for bed. By turning the lights down, and escaping the bright screens of our computers, i-pads, TVs, or video games, our body starts to reproduce melatonin, the body’s natural sleep aid. We also help our body by going to bed at the same time every night, whether during the week or weekend. This consistency sets the tone for our body to naturally get tired around the same time, ensuring that we get full rest to wake up refreshed the next day. Avoiding caffeine several hours before bed, and avoiding alcohol can also contribute to a more restful and consistent sleep pattern. Although it may be tempting to drink come caffeine in order to stay up and watch your favorite TV show, or enjoy the company of friends with drinks, this actually impairs our quality of sleep. Sometimes, it may be difficult to fall asleep because of our ruminating thoughts about our work or school day. Write them down. This takes the pressure off of us having to remember or think about the day’s events. If you wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts, taking time to write them down can help alleviate the pressure, or else getting up and engaging in a physical activity for a period of time until you are tired again, can also help. Don’t turn on the TV or electronic screen, though. This sends signals to the brain that it is time to wake up! Naps can also curb sleepiness throughout the day. But, only take 10 to 20 minutes for a nap a day; otherwise you will feel the groggy effects. That is, unless you are narcoleptic. If you have this medical condition, taking longer or more frequent naps may actually feel refreshing.

MU Psych Central is supported by the Mansfield Psychology Department, which includes Dr. Gretchen Sechrist, Department Chair and Associate Professor, who specializes in Social Psychology, Dr. Brian Loher, Professor, our Human Resource Management specialist, Dr. Francis Craig, Professor, expert in Mind/Body Health, Dr. Karri Verno, Associate Professor, who specializes in Lifespan Development and Forensic Psychology and Nicolle Mayo, Assistant Professor, expert in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Idea/Concept: Nicolle Mayo, PhD
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Nicolle Mayo, PhD

Produced by Vogt Media
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