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  • Apr 18 2014

    The Importance of Sleep

    When I was pregnant in the third trimester, I reconnected with an old school friend who is now a mum to two beautiful children, ages 5 and 7.  She felt it important to tell me: “kids make you old”.  I’ve pondered this since – especially during those late nights as I feed baby – and have come to the conclusion that the reason why parents seem to ‘get old’ – or at least feel old – after having children is because we lose our natural sleep patterns.

    Although parents know about the benefits of a good night’s sleep: better memory, attention, concentration and a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, it’s easier said than done as a new Mom or Dad. Facts are though, that sleep does improve mood and it makes us feel as though we can do more in the day, not to mention giving a better outlook on life. In addition to helping us live productive lives, sleep is key to feeling and looking youthful, and below are 3 ways this is true:

    1. Your Skin Glows Skin actually grows as you Sleep – In fact, we develop nearly 30 times more skin while asleep than when awake. Notice those dark circles and bags under your eyes after a poor night’s sleep? The skin of a healthy sleeper is more elastic, supple and taut. The more you get a full night’s sleep, the more you’ll have that youthful glow.
    2. Learning and Being Mobile is More Natural — Our mind and bodies learn new things while we sleep. Studying the night before a big test and then getting a full night’s sleep can solidify the material in your brain. Pulling an all-nighter without sleep can actually make it more difficult to learn new material. But more than just brain cells learn and grow throughout the night! Our muscles, ligaments and tissues all learn new routines to help us physically maneuver throughout the world –whether it is to help with balance, new dance moves or picking up a new sport.
    3. You Boost Your “Youth” Hormones — Finally, human growth hormone (HGH) has its highest production during slow-wave sleep. HGH is a key player in keeping us looking young even after we’ve finished growing. HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and is in high levels during childhood and adolescence. After we’ve grown, HGH levels drop off and stay at low, steady levels during adulthood. Deficiencies in HGH can lead to reduced muscle mass, slower metabolism, more belly fat and sagging skin. Sleep more, and you’ll likely increase your HGH levels.

    New BYU research even shows the link between the consistency of your bed time and wake time which can also influence body fat!  Sleep indeed helps you manage your weight and stay more fit. Consistently getting less sleep than you actually need per night leads to slow and steady weight gain. This weight gain can impact how others view you (unhealthy, tired) and how you may view yourself (tired, unmotivated). If you sleep more, you’ll find it easier to lose weight and will even have more energy to exercise. It is also commonly accepted now that exercise helps us feel younger both physically and mentally.

    Exercise science professor Bruce Bailey studied more than 300 women from two major Western U.S. universities over the course of several weeks and found that those with the best sleeping habits had healthier weights.

    The main findings from the study, published online in the American Journal of Health Promotion:

    • A consistent bed time and, especially, a consistent wake time are related to lower body fat.
    • Getting less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours of sleep per night is associated with higher body fat.
    • Quality of sleep is important for body composition.

    More info regarding the link between consistent bed and wake time with body composition, at our source: http://news.byu.edu/archive13-nov-sleepweight.aspx

    All of this said, having baby on a sleep schedule and fulfilling your own chore and errand-time on a schedule so you can also fit in your own sleep and peace of mind takes a bit of time and patience, so hang in there and take deep breaths in the meantime.

    Is your baby on an eat and sleep schedule?  Do you have questions about getting baby on a schedule?  Every baby is different, though a method that was taught to us by clients’ nannies has worked for our baby Noah, who is now 5 months old and on a consistent feeding, napping and sleep schedule.  Contact me for tips that have worked for us and I’ll be happy to pass along the routine.

    Much love (and even more sleep!) to you,

     


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