It’s a sign of youth and a sign of maturity to bypass some shut-eye in favor of late nights; whether it takes the form of giggling at a sleep-over, pulling an all-nighter at finals, or just having an on-the-go lifestyle with unceasing social networking, sleep is more often than not left paying the bill when it comes to the list of our priorities. We’re over-committed to everything but our bedtime, and as disciplined as we would like to be with our eating habits, exercise regime and wardrobe choices, should we really be so quick to eliminate sleep from the equation for a healthy life?
Consider this. Imagine you are the loving mother of five spunky toddlers. You feed them several times a day, change their diapers, wash their clothes, provide them with stimulating and educational play, all the while paying bills, catching up with friends, and feeding and clothing yourself. Now imagine if those five, precious, dear children of yours never went to sleep. They never had play dates, never left for pre-school, and were never on anyone else’s watch. You had to care for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with not even an hour of time dedicated to yourself. What would life start to look like? What would you start to look like? Same outfit? Nutrient-deficient meals? A house worthy of an appearance on Hoarders?
This is exactly what happens when we don’t sleep. Our brain is like our mother, and we are a helpless toddler totally reliant on its wise, serving and beneficial care. When we go to sleep we are giving our maternal-minds a break; our body, along with its needs and demands, rests but our brain is still active, much like the quiet calm afforded a mother whose children have settled down to nap. While we sleep our brain sorts out and organizes the events of the day: what we did, what we ate, what fat should be broken down, what hormones should be made, etc. After a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours, ladies) we wake more beautiful (thanks to natural detox-ing and muscle repair), better able to think, metabolize food and with more energy to mount whatever our day brings. When we don’t sleep, our brains become that over-worked mother without a scrap of time to her self. She’ll overlook our needs, dress us in whatever she can find, and Heaven forbid… begin to resent us and keep things for herself. This is why weight gain, emotional disorders, heart, skin and a dozen of other physiological ailments have all been linked to poor sleeping habits. Our brain, and subsequently our bodies, gets stingy with us. Despite whatever healthy and responsible lifestyles we adopt, if our brain can’t adequately process it then we can say goodbye to the baby and the bathwater.
Mutual submission sure has a harmonious tune: love your bed, your body will love you, you’ll love your body.