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  • Writer's pictureStephen Bean

Don't Sleep On The Importance of Eight Hours of Sleep

Time is a finite resource and sometimes it isn't so easy to manage. With mounting responsibilities and extra-curricular activities at every turn, free time can be a dwindling asset. As a teenager there is only so much time for school, extra-curriculars, homework, etc... The hours in a day are so limiting and all of us are looking for a way to get the most out of the day, unfortunately many times we choose everything else above sleep. The decision to choose everything else above sleep is not wise and may come back to haunt you in terms of trying to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul.

Sleep is our bodies chance to recharge, repair cells, and prepare for the next day of activity. During sleep, the body is releasing hormones to help your immune system function successfully, retain memory, manage the signals of hunger, and recover from workouts. All of these previously stated functions are vital to feeling healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By neglecting sleep, we're impeding our efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. So if you're in the gym having great sessions, eating well, and doing appropriate recovery work, all of your gains may be marginalized by not getting the proper amount of sleep.

At Camp New Heights, we designed the schedule to ensure that every camper has the opportunity to get eight hours of sleep. The schedule sees campers proceed to their rooms at 10:30pm to prepare for sleep. Lights out and quiet hours occur at 11:00pm, which gives campers a window of eight hours and fifteen minutes to have a wonderful night of sleep. This allows campers to wake up ready to go with the next day's challenges. We prioritize the importance of sleep and it's impact on performance and recovery.

Some tips to help get the eight hours of sleep inside and outside of camp:

1. Get Regular Exercise: Frequently planned exercised throughout the week provides the opportunity for more peaceful and restful sleep. By having a regimented exercise routine, teens/adults are able to fall asleep quicker and have less waking in the middle of the night.

2. Avoid Cellphones and Blue Light Close to Bedtime: The use of cellphones, computers, and television just prior to bed can have severe consequences on sleep quality.

Firstly, the blue light from screens suppresses the release of Melatonin. Melotonin is the hormone that controls our sleep cycle. The body naturally produces Melatonin through the exposure to light throughout the day. Our body gets confused when it's dark outside, but we're stimulating our eyes with blue light from electronics.

The use of the cellphone also keeps us mentally engaged and it makes it harder to relax and let go at the end of the day. By scrolling, texting, and liking Instagram photos, our brain remains engaged and it can become much harder to fall asleep.

Lastly, REM sleep cycles can be delayed by engaging with your phone, computer, tv, etc... REM sleep is where we get into our deepest sleep and where the batteries for the body get the most recharged. Delaying the onset of REM cycles can alter the overall quality of sleep by reducing the amount of deep sleep you can obtain over a given time period.

3. Make sure your sleeping environment is conducive to great sleep. Some ways to make your sleeping environment more comfortable are:

-Use curtains to make the room as dark as possible. The darkness will let your body know it's time to sleep and rest.

-Make sure your mattress is comfortable and fits the firmness level that you desire.

-Utilize earplugs or a sleep app (soothing noises or white noise generator) that helps drown out outside noise from the street or within the home.

4. Watch What You Eat Prior to Bedtime: Swinging by Starbucks after your sports practice before heading home, probably not the best idea if you want great sleep. It's important to avoid stimulants like caffeine a few hours before bedtime. Drinking coffee or consuming chocolate prior to bedtime can lead to a lower quality of sleep.

It's super important to recharge and reset after a long day of school, work, exercise, and other extra-curricular activities. The importance of sleep can't be understated, so never neglect it!

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