Get Your Sleep On!

I’m going to sound pretty cliché about this, but getting your 8 hours of Z’s really are impactful in your life. I know many of us have always been told to get a good nights rest the night before an important interview or an exam, and the reasons behind that still stand. However, there are plenty more reasons behind the theory of needing 8 hours of sleep.

We know that inadequate sleep makes us cranky the next morning, causes headaches, makes it difficult for us to reach our weight goal, has us looking a bit rough around the eyes and pretty much the entire face, and leaves us feeling fatigued and dragging our behind. Except, did you know that it also….. Well, just keep reading to find out. Here are some even greater reasons as to why your body longs for that 8 hour of shut eye every night.

1. You are more susceptible to catching a virus/cold
Lack of sleep negatively affects your immune system making it more likely that you will get sick if you are exposed to anyone with a cold or virus. Recovery also depends heavily on the amount of time you sleep and rest. Give your body what it’s asking for during this crucial time.

2. Increased risk of stroke
Sleep deprivation has been linked to strokes, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disorders that may result in early death. Sleeping less than 6 hours a night can result in a 48% greater chance of dying from heart disease and 15% chance dying from a stroke.

3. Triggers seizures
Seizures are extremely sensitive to sleep patterns. During normal sleep-wake cycles, the brains electrical activity changes. The changes of a persons brain who does not get adequate amounts of sleep can be related to their seizures. Sleep deprivation is the 2nd most common trigger of seizures.

4. Acne problems
Did you know that lack of sleep is one of three main acne triggers? Hormones being disrupted from not sleeping throws off your chemical balance forming those nasty pimples that annoy you.

5. Infertility
If you and your spouse have been trying to begin a family, this is a must know- Sleep disorders increase the risk of infertility for both sexes. According to the CDC, lack of sleep affects the hormones related to fertility. Growing your family begins with sleep.

6. Erectile dysfunction
Testosterone and oxygen are important for healthy erections and lack of sleep gets in the way of just that. Sleeping for less than 8 hours a night changes the hormonal balance in the blood stream and circulation. Any disruption of that may keep blood from travelling to the reproductive organs, causing erectile dysfunction.

7. Hair loss
Lack of sleep can decrease melatonin levels in your body. While melatonin helps regulate your sleep, it also assists in hair growth. Once your melatonin levels are off due to your sleep, negative consequences take on the body, more-so, your hair. Lack of sleep contributes to hair loss and hair thinning.

8. Yeast infections
As I mentioned before, losing sleep disrupts your hormonal balances in many ways. When a change in normal vaginal flora occurs, a yeast infection is likely to develop leaving you feeling uncomfortable, self- conscious, and irritated.

9. Wound healing
Getting enough sleep allows your cuts and deep wounds to heal more promptly. In fact, getting the right amount of sleep is more important than nutrition in speeding wound healing.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Create a bedtime routine that helps your body know that its time for bed. Set your alarm and put down your phone for the night an hour before laying down. Take a relaxing shower and let the worries of your day drain with the water. Dim your lights down. Set the temperature the way your body needs it for sleeping. Meditate. Breathe in and out in a calming manner and drift away.


Anxiety and COVID

I have become so homesick while being at home. It’s like everything I’ve ever known about life and living is changing right before my eyes and I don’t know what to do with it. As a child, I always went to my mom to feel better, to feel safe. She was what helped me in times of uncertainty as any mother would for her child. But who do I run to now? I’m a grown woman who has to figure this out and be strong. I cannot be around my elderly parents during this time of crisis, for their own health is at stake. And to be around my siblings is just as bad. I, too, am a mother and I know my own child is clinging onto me for support and consistency. But what do you do when that consistency your child is longing for is no longer possible?

Weekends were always a good time. Holidays were a sure thing to be spent with family and friends. Birthdays were celebrated with those we loved. Work was a safe place. And on other days just hanging out with friends and going shopping or to the movies was never a bad idea. The world as we know it has been changed and it’s something that is hard for all of us to wrap our heads around. For some, it is even harder for our minds to accept. Dealing with anxiety, change is already a challenge. Add chaos to the world and not seeing your family, now that’s just a disastrous feeling.

Millions of people may be experiencing mental instability right now with this virus hovering over the world. It is especially wearisome for those whose family are battling the virus and maybe even themselves. The stress is overwhelming and the unpredictability of our tomorrow only intensifies this feeling of uneasiness and discomfort. As much as we would love to be in control, we must remember that we simply can’t. The only thing we can do is remind ourselves that right now we are breathing. Right now we are alive and we will make it out of this.

Finding Ourselves Amidst COVID
We have to try to live life in such a way that doesn’t remind us of our everyday struggle with the virus. I am not saying don’t wear your mask and go out into crowds and visit people! No,no,no don’t be doing all of that, WE ARE TRYING TO FLATTEN THE CURVE, PEOPLE. Stay at home and do things that will help keep your mind off of the craziness. Wake up in the morning, make your bed (a made up bed gives such a serene feeling) and drink your water and coffee. If you never were one to work out, start! Do a few jumping jacks, a couple push ups, some high knees and maybe a couple squats. Take your bath while listening to some crunk music that really gets you motivated and moving. Dress to impress, yes even if you aren’t going anywhere…. You better do your make-up, do your hair and put that “feel good” outfit on. If you look good, you will feel good even if its just a little bit. Anything counts when dealing with anxiety. I’ve done it for years and this works most times. Open up your blinds and doors to let that beautiful sunshine beam into your home. The brighter your space, the better you feel. Sit down and scribble out what you would like to accomplish today whether its clearing out that closet, re-arranging your spice cabinet, or just jotting down what you need to make it a relaxing day for yourself. Whatever you do, avoid the news. That just causes more anxiety. Figure out what you are going to cook and do it with some music on whether its gospel or rap, just anything that gets those hips moving and back to your happy place. Dance while spicing up those ribs! Once the sun goes down a bit go outside for some fresh air. Even if it’s to sit on your porch steps, just take some deep breaths and find yourself back in peace. Water your plants and grass. Go for a little walk around the block. After a day of keeping your head as clear as can be there is no better way of bringing it to an end, but with a steaming hot shower and some calming music to heal the soul. Massage your scalp as you shampoo and condition, massage your neck, shoulders, and feet as you soap up.

The Reality of this Disorder
I know that anxiety is hard to deal with. I, myself, have dealt with it for years and still continue to struggle with it almost everyday. There is no way to make this awful, gut-wrenching feeling go away completely, but the above could help. Even if it is just for a day, it helps. I know our heads seem to want to explode with emotions and thoughts. Anyone can say, “Try this, it helps” and it won’t mean a thing, but it is really up to us, ourselves to make us feel okay. There are days I find myself lost and all I can do is pray and pray, all day. That is what helps me. It may not help 100% of the time and when it doesn’t I have to figure out another way to crawl out of that black hole that anxiety tends to pull us into. Do not do things that will drown you further. As bad as you want to dwell in your bed and let it sink you in, get up. As bad as you want to curl up on the floor and cry all day, do it for a few minutes, instead. Though you may not have an appetite, food will help, try one bite. Your headache won’t go away and you don’t want to move, take an Advil or Tylenol and lay on your couch and watch some Netflix (nothing depressing, please!). There are things we can do to help ourselves, nothing is too small or too big to help manage our mindsets. You are not alone, we are all in this together even though it seems as though everyone you know and love is 100 miles away from you.

If you have not dealt with anxiety before in your life and have not been feeling like yourself, perhaps you are feeling off and just out of focus, then you may be experiencing some form of anxiety.

Here are the list of common symptoms that you or someone you know may be experiencing with anxiety:
• Nervousness
• Feeling of being in danger
• Feeling of uneasiness
• Palpitations
• Rapid breathing or hyperventilating
• Chest pain or tightness
• Sudden sweating
• Trembling or twitching
• Feeling weak or faint
• Unable to focus or think clearly about anything other than the problem
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Feeling of losing control
• Feeling like you are going crazy

If you cannot control this on your own that is okay. It is always okay to not be okay. Consult with your doctor if you feel like this is out of your hands and you can’t find your way out. Never be scared or ashamed to ask for help.