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March Pages 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 247 LAP NOTES By Susan Burak* It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. —John Steinbeck UNDERSTANDING SLEEP What enhances our creativity, aids in metabolic efficiency, makes us smarter and provides numerous overall wellness and health benefits? It sounds like the start of an infomercial for some over-hyped product making impossible claims, but the truth is we gain all of this and more just by partaking in one of the most natural and instinctive nightly rituals available to everyone: sleep. Studies show that mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, good judgment, mental acuity, impulse control, emotional regulation, selfesteem, frustration tolerance, and emotional and mental intelligence are all improved with a consistent seven or eight hours of sleep per night. There are also studies that show that with adequate sleep our immune systems are enhanced and that we can actually improve our physical fitness and endurance by sleeping more. If you have started to doze off as you are reading this article, then you might want to consider consulting a healthcare professional about taking one of the many available “sleepiness scale” assessment tools. If you expect that you will have a high chance of dozing off as you are reading, watching TV or sitting inactive in a public place such as a theatre or a meeting, you should pay attention to this as an early warning sign that you might need to re-adjust your sleep habits. If you keep “zoning out” or “napping” while * Susan Burak, J.D., M.A., R.C.C., is a counsellor and associate director at the Lawyers Assistance Program of B.C.


March Pages 2017
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