Great topic--it's been on my mind too. Yes, Sparkpeople has made me aware of the blessings and dangers related to healthy/unhealthy sleep habits.
I've been a 'happy wanderer', the kind of person who could wander around until 2 or 3 a.m. because the house is quiet and it's the only time I could be alone. I justified this because I had trouble falling asleep anyway. I would often spend those late hours on the computer (sometimes fooling myself that I was working when I didn't really get anything done), or surfing or reading.
The Sparkpeople training that stress, weight gain and health risks are associated with this kind of sleep deprivation gave me a wake-up call. I had excused myself by thinking that I was enjoying personal time. But I couldn't change my bad habits on my own.
After talking over the situation with a daughter who was developing similar negative sleep patterns, we decided to choose a reasonable time to be in bed for the night, an hour later on weekends.
For every quarter-hour or part of that we were still up past the chosen bedtimes, we agreed to put a quarter in a container for our favourite charity. Well, the first week I ran out of quarters. The second week I put in a couple. This week, I haven't had to contribute.
But the real benefit has been in realizing how well I feel. I can't believe the difference--fewer muscle aches, better mood, more reasonable appetite because I'm not always craving sweets for an energy boost. It's been really enlightening. Having a regular bedtime has made me wake up before the alarm, and I'm happier and less likely to feel grouchy in the day.
It's true that there are still nights when I don't sleep well, and they're almost always related to a change in the weather. However, when I can't fall asleep or wake up a few times in the night, I think that at least I'm resting, and I can pray for the people on my mind or think of things that make me happy. Restless nights are fewer in number than they used to be, though I'll probably always have a few. Have noticed these occur more frequently when the seasons are changing; we have highly defined seasons.
Don't know if I would have come to this point without the Sparkpeople information and postings here--can you have a wake-up call that makes you get more sleep?
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.