person sleeping showing organs and gears inside

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep. It’s something we all need. Eight hours of restful sleep per night. But what happens if we can’t get at least 8 hours? For some people without chronic illness, they can run on 6 hours, maybe 5. For me personally, if I get less than 8, I can barely function the next day.

How important is sleep?Sleep is an essential part of our routines. It helps keep our bodies functioning. Sleep affects almost all of our bodily systems like the brain, lungs, heart, metabolism, and mood, just to name a few.Research has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to increased risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep is a very important part of our lives.How much sleep do you get?The average hours of sleep needed for most adults is between 7-9 hours per night, but we typically can get by with 6-11 hours per night. Sometimes I find myself needing around 11 hours per night if I’m particularly fatigued.When I say that 7-9 hours is average, that means deep, uninterrupted sleep. Now if you’re like me, and have AS or any chronic illness, I’m sure you know that this is almost impossible.What interrupts sleep?For me, personally, I find it incredibly difficult to fall asleep at night. It takes me a few hours at least. I’ve almost always had this issue, but it’s become worse since I’ve been sick.When I’m flaring, I find that a few times a night I will wake up in pain. Once waking up from the pain, it’s tough to fall back asleep. All I can focus on in the moment is how bad the pain is, it doesn’t matter how tired I actually am.I tend to find that I will wake up in the early morning, between 6-8 am (yes, 8 is early for me), stay up for a few hours distracting myself from the pain with YouTube, and eventually fall back to sleep til’ 11 or 12.Now that’s a good night if I can wake up and eventually fall back asleep. Some nights I’m in such excruciating pain that I can only manage to get 2-3 hours of sleep. Those are the nights that really mess me up the next day.What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?I used to be able to run on as little as 6 hours of sleep. Oh, how I miss those days. Nowadays, if I get 6 hours of sleep, I feel awful the next day. I tend to get a headache around late afternoon, and it all goes downhill from there.I'll find myself getting cold-like symptoms when I don’t get enough sleep. I feel a sore throat coming on, my head hurts, and I just feel generally lousy. It feels as though I’m getting a head cold, but if I get a good night’s sleep the next night, I’m totally fine the day after.This never happened when I first got sick, but now it’s a given. I know for sure that I feel sick because I didn’t get enough sleep. A lot of the time I can just stay home and rest all day. But if I don’t get enough sleep before a day where I’m going out, that’s when it affects me the most. I wish I could just sleep like I used to. Sometimes I have to take a sleeping pill just to ensure that I will get my hours.What helps you sleep?What are some things that you do (or take), that help you sleep better? I’d love to start a discussion on this because sleep is one of the most important things we do!

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