Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sleep and Loopiness

Or technically; preventing dementia through early rising and enough sleep. This particular bit of advice is both to myself and to validate the habit of early bird exercise and activity. (Or; "I'm not nuts now, but YOU may be later.")

According to an article in Everyday Health today, "Researchers found that women with weaker circadian rhythms(those who performed less physical activity early in the day) were 80 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia than women who were active early in the day."

And further, lack of sleep is also linked to lower metabolism which leads to extra weight, which leads guessed it...dementia later in life. So; baby yourself with some sleep; you DO need it.

Get up early and walk around the block. But don't forget to get to bed early. End of lecture.
Beginning of fascinating topic. Why is sleep like a filmy, frothy camisole in our world? Because it is so hot and neglected. Because someone invented electricity, then they came up with Game Boys and the whole notion of having nothing to do once the lights were out was lost. You can always sneak your phone under your covers and text, even if you're not allowed to stay up all night and watch tv like the big people, right?

Think "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The most eye-opening quote of the book: "Almanzo! What's the matter? Be you sick? It's five o'clock!" In the morning. And he's not up yet. Mother freaks out. This is what civilized New York farming life was like. While Pa and others like him were attempting to succeed at the pioneer life on the "frontier", this was what it was like when you had the easy life of an established farmer back east. People have always been up with the dawn. Like animals who are not nocturnal, it is our natural rhythm, the one by which we function best. When we are regulated by natural light, we go to bed earlier and get up (really, really) early.  When we take care of the beasties in our care or have acres to farm before the sun gets too too hot, we get to bed so we can wake up...or collapse real soon.

A lifestyle of staying up super-late simply pushes back that inevitable collapse a few years, in a different form.

Teen Sleep is a huge issue. It is one of those things that it seems to be normal to allow a child to self-regulate as they get older. Take a look at this article for the experts' opinions on the topic. Or this one for the dangers of habituating a teen body to staying up late. I have relaxed my attitude a little over the years, truly. In days past, nap time was of military precision, for survival's sake. The year my daughter was in kindergarten, we ate at the unnatural hour (for a French family) of 5:30pm and had them in bed by 7:30pm, because school began at 7:50am. That same school has moved to a 7:25 start time. I still worry about the amount of sleep my teens are not getting. They get ill more often, have cranky fits, and are generally less performant in school and less happy without enough sleep. I can cajole, advise and cut the internet, sure, especially if I want grumpier children. I think though, the best way to teach is through modeling behavior, so excuse me, please, I'm going to turn out the lights now.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, sleep that elusive creature! It's hard to do without, and in the modern world we deal with so many distractions which, pre screen days were fairly limited. Still my mother was always one of those who would stagger about bleary-eyed every single morning because she'd spend the night reading!


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