If You Aren’t Sleeping, You Aren’t Recovering

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My friend and neighbor is a new mom, and with a career as a doctor working overnight shifts in the ER, she’s not afforded too much time to sleep. After months of juggling these two full-time jobs (and averaging 2-3 hours of sleep a night), it all came to a screeching halt.

One Sunday at a baseball game with her husband, she fell asleep standing up while waiting in line for the bathroom, falling and crushing her cheekbone on the hard cement.

Sleep is Not an Option

The bottom line here is that sleep is not an indulgence. It’s essential to our physical and mental health, and it’s crucial for us to perform our best. Some overachievers take pride in the fact that they only need a few hours of shut-eye, but the reality is that most of us can’t cut back on sleep…without paying dearly for it.

Sleep deprivation results in many consequences, including a weakened immune system, impaired brain activity, weight gain and a higher risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease. Moreover, not getting enough sleep can increase stress levels.

According to one study by the University of Pennsylvania, a week of sleep limited to 4.5 hours per night resulted in increased stress, irritability and mental exhaustion in those being tested. With stress being one of the most common triggers for relapse, it’s best to get as many hours in as you can in your recovery.

Still, we keep pretending sleep is optional. Experts say adults need 7 to 9 hours each night, but few of us actually achieve this. Quality sleep is crucial because during this time, the brain is hard at work, doing things like processing information and forming new memories while consolidating old ones.

Sleeping brains are also capable of increased creativity; the mind, in an unconscious resting state, can make surprising new connections.

Go to Bed!

Sleeping that extra hour (or two) also helps you get more out of the day. Sleep builds and repairs tissue, restores energy, improves mood and allows you to be physically and mentally engaged in everything that’s thrown your way during waking hours. It even helps you effectively make decisions – something that is crucial to the success of your sobriety.

So, go ahead; turn down the bed a little earlier tonight. We promise you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed, with more energy and focus to tackle the day ahead!

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