Wilderness Therapy Program Pillars of Health: 3 of 5—Sleep

By Pacific Quest

Get some Z’s. Forty winks. Out like a light. Slept like a log. Conked out. Deep sleep. Are you tired, yet? Sleep is an absolute human need. Thank goodness. Thank goodness we were programmed from the start to require a restful period in the day otherwise life can feel like go-go-go all the time. Sound sleep revitalizes our bodies, restores the overworked cells of our systems and refreshes the mind.

So how much sleep, exactly, is required? The answer varies depending on one’s age. For young people, especially for troubled teenagers involved in the deep, good work self-discovery and healing, the recommended amount of sleep each night is at least 7 hours. Seven hours is the minimum, and some experts suggest teenagers would benefit from 9 hours each night.

Reasons Why Sleep is So Good:

  • Sleep feeds your brain (and who doesn’t want to eat more while sleeping!), which means to say your brain requires sustenance just like your stomach. When your stomach is hungry, it growls. When you’re brain is hungry it gets headaches or makes it difficult for you to focus. Feed it with sleep.
  • Sleep is good for your skin. It keeps your skin healthier, eliminating or reducing stress-induced acne. Giving your skin (the largest organ of the human body) a break from light and sun allows it to rebuild and rejuvenate.
  • Sleep encourages healthier eating habits. Whereas lack of sleep can lead to less healthy eating choices, good sleep brings a contentment that leaves you feeling whole and healthy which leads to wanting good food to match that food feeling.
  • Sleep helps your ability to concentrate and learn new things. Having enough means you are alert during tests or class.
  • Sleep is a natural energy-booster. It gives you the ability to perform all the things you do during the day like work on projects, skateboarding, running, surfing, gardening, chores, etc.

While it seems extreme to have done so, animal studies prove that sleep is essential to survival. In other words, we cannot live without sleep. Sleep is vital to living and lack of it or consistently poor amounts of sleep wreck havoc on the brains and bodies of humans. Some people, however, have trouble falling to sleep. At Pacific Quest, sleep is a pillar of health. Restful sleep is integral in wilderness therapy since it affects all the important work done by troubled teens during the day.

Ways to Get Good Sleep:

  • Make sleep a priority: commit to at least one week of a sleep routine that gets you in bed at the same time each night. You might enjoy it so much your commitment might turn into a welcome pattern.
  • Nap with care: Naps can boost your energy if you’re lagging during the day, but be certain of two things: don’t nap too long (since naps longer than 30 minutes can make falling asleep at night difficult) and don’t nap too close to your normal bedtime.
  • Pay attention to yourself: discover the signs in yourself that point to sleep deprivation and then take care of it with napping or scheduling your sleep. Once you can ascertain when you are lacking sleep, share it with those around you. Sleep deprived drivers, for instance are a menace to everyone on the road.
  • Create a cozy nest: make your sleeping space desirable—sheets, comforter, music, lighting, books, whatever you might need to set the stage for a fantastic night sleep, make it happen.
  • Wind down & tech down: too much stimuli immediately before sleep simply doesn’t make restful sleep possible. Try to avoid working through homework or projects right before bed. Computers, laptops, video games, texting, TV, iPods…don’t need rest to function at top performance. You do. Turn tech off.
  • Brag: Once you have a handle on the benefits of sleep, brag about it. Spread the word to your friends about how delicious sleep is for you.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests a sleep routine helps regulate nightly sleep, “Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns.” Something integral about living at Pacific Quest’s wilderness therapy program is helping guide young people in returning to more natural patterns in their life. A consistent, pleasant sleep routine makes all the work of therapy more effective and profound.

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