How do I explain to my cat Maisie that I need more than a cat nap to operate efficiently! As Summer Time dawn breaks she wakes me, with a gentle paw tap to my nose, having spent the night curled up on my bed. But it’s far too early in the morning! Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make me tired but it impacts on my mood, performance, concentration – and of great importance, the way my body repairs itself. Consistently sleep-deprived lessens my body’s ability concerning the processes required for muscle tissue, growth hormone and repairs which occur during sleep.
I was interested to read that a recent study by The Sleep Council found those who exercise are more likely to sleep better. But a word of caution. I’m of the opinion that it isn’t a good idea to take physical exercise before you go to bed, because the adrenaline is flowing and your heart rate is up. After a workout the brain is very active and with body temperature raised it makes it harder to fall asleep. Those who want to, or need to exercise in the evening, should do so over two hours before bedtime.
We possibly spend a third of our lives sleeping so it’s important to create an environment that helps us to sleep. But many of us use our bedrooms for other activities such as discussing important issues with our partners, watching TV or browsing the internet. Since the bedroom impacts on sleep let’s keep it just for sleep, and possibly for sex, because unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy.
For our health’s sake, when it comes to work most people need on average seven to eight hours of solid sleep to perform at their best. If you start scrimping on sleep you’re in danger of becoming too tired to be truly effective. Try telling that to my cat!
Lack of a good night’s sleep affects both our bodies and minds, and as the research found, also erodes concentration and problem solving ability. Each hour of sleep lost per night is associated with a temporary loss of one IQ point. “Sleep is the best medication” said the Dali Lama. Sound advice for both humans and cats!