Sleep, it Does a Body Good

By Trudy Ann Taylor

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is get a good night’s sleep and for some this is easier said than done, especially in these turbulent times when we are filled with such uncertainty and anxiety. The COVID-19 Pandemic has escalated this problem even further. We are all aware how important sleep is, yet many of us do not receive the required amount of rest. Sleep allows the body to rejuvenate the cells and fight off diseases.

 According to an article by Eric J. Olson MD from the Mayo Clinic, “lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.” The article goes on to say that “during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.” Also, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep for adults and more for children and teens. It is often quite difficulty to put a body at rest when there are thoughts of a rebound of COVID-19, unfinished homework and the endless bills that are due. 

There are a couple of quick techniques that you ca implement whenever you experience difficulty sleeping. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it does not involve alcohol. Sorry about that. One way is to keep a journal. A journal is a wonderful way to reflect on the day’s events. Perhaps there are some things that could have been handled differently or some things that you would rather forget. It may have been a wonderful productive day. Regardless of what occurred, spend a few minutes writing in your journal. You will get issues off your chest and feel better. 

The mere fact of expressing yourself may help you fall sleep. Besides, months, years from now, you will have something to look back on. This second option never fails and for those who dislike writing, this choice might be best. But whatever you do, do not rush. It will not work if you rush the process.

Lie in bed with your eyes closed and pretend you are on the beach on a beautiful summer’s day. A gentle breeze caress your skin while soft white sand tickle your toes. Seagulls fly against a cloudless blue sky. It is a pristine day. The azure water laps melodiously against the shore. You are relaxed and happy. Across the distance you notice a little speck. The speck gradually becomes larger. Finally, you realize it is a bird with a huge basket grasped within its claws. The massive bird sets the basket on the sand a short distance from you. And into the basket you place all your troubles – your mortgage, the rent, the car payment, the car insurance, the utility bills, your tuition, your textbook(s) on back order, your overdue 5-page essay, your math homework (which you suck at), your credit card payment, your date that stood you up, the groom that stood you up,  your cellphone payment, your cable bill, your life insurance payment, your homeowners insurance, the unpaid parking ticket, the argument with your neighbor, your speeding ticket, the not so nice things you said to your spouse, new shoes for the kids and the dreaded visit to your in-laws (even during COVID-19). 

Put anything that is bothering you in the basket. Don’t hold back; the bird is strong and the basket quite secure. Once you are finished, the bird lifts the now immensely heavy basket and flies back across the horizon and just before the bird is out of sight you are fast asleep. Sweet dreams. 

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