Physical Energy and Sleep

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about physical energy. Women have come to me with concerns about their lack of it. And personally, not so long ago, I too grappled with more than my share of feeling worn out, without sufficient oomph to sustain my commitments to work and family.

In fact, that’s really what prompted me to shift my health career focus to coaching.

The stories of our particular circumstances and symptoms differ, yet certain common themes are worth highlighting. This is particularly true for anyone who cares to reclaim the precious and often elusive fuel of physical energy, which is an essential indicator of health status.

A number of factors influence an individual’s ability to live with the vitality that she craves. Think of them as energy “robbers” and energy “patrons,” or the choices we make that tend to weaken or strengthen our physical stamina.

These robbers and patrons, which diminish or build our sense of wellness, play their energy game in every area of our lives, such as sleep, dietary habits, physical activity, to name a few.

Today, I’d like to focus on sleep. It’s a biological imperative, a non-negotiable need that is essential for health. In my experience, it’s one that can be slippery to secure.

Each season calls us to address our health in a particular way. January and February, at least in the northern hemisphere, beg us to make sure, extra sure that we are getting enough sleep.

Yet also in March, April, and May, as daylight hours increase and darkness decreases, sleep matters — no matter the month, no matter the hemisphere. Sleep is one of those basic animal needs that cuts across seasons and location. We may be more aware of our need for it during certain periods. But we need a substantial amount of it all year long.

Regardless of the season, we humans, with our various electronically powered appliances, gadgets, and habits, tend to deprive ourselves of much needed rest on a regular basis. I certainly have, more often than I’d like to admit. And I’ve paid the price of that deprivation.

So today, my clarion call is this: let’s each pay attention to the quantity and quality of our sleep. Why? Because research assures us that high-quality sleep is one of the most important factors that influences health and quality of life.

Sleep nurtures and nourishes, heals and energizes us. Without adequate sleep, we can’t function optimally or stay well. Physical regeneration takes place only when we sleep deeply.

You know you are sleeping well when you wake up easily, feeling refreshed, ready for the day, and when that feeling of alertness sticks with you until evening. Are those days your norm? I wish I could claim them as mine always.

The risks of too little sleep are many and cover the gamut of subtle to dramatic. In the short run, our brains suffer tissue loss, impacting memory, focus, and emotions. Our livers become stressed, compromising their ability to detox. Our immune systems weaken, leaving us more susceptible to common colds. And, our energy levels drop.

Over time, insufficient sleep also increases our risk for stroke, obesity, certain cancers, insulin sensitivity and diabetes, and heart disease.

Sleep is serious business! Much more than I’d realized, until recently. If you’re struggling with low energy, think carefully about the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Read more about why sleep matters, where you’ll learn signs of inadequate sleep.

Check back for upcoming posts about common causes of inadequate sleep and tips for improving the quality of your slumber.


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