We all know the feeling of waking up after a night without much sleep. Yikes, the alarm is going off already! The grogginess associated with a sleepless night can be enough to make us want to head back to bed instead of motivating us to rise and meet the challenges of our day. What you might not realize however is that beyond helping you feel well rested in the morning, sleep is essential to good health and one of the most critical factors to our mental and physical wellness.
Why is sleep so important?
Deep rest during the night helps you fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keeps your energy levels high. Your body uses the time you are asleep to regenerate damaged tissue and streamline mental processes. Better cognitive reasoning, immunity to sickness, weight control, and memory are all linked to restful sleep.
Check out this list of 9 Surprising Reasons To Get More Sleep from WebMD to delve more into the benefits of sleep
Some of these benefits may seem obvious, as the days we wake up with a good night of sleep are often our best days. We feel as if we are in a better mood, have less soreness, and more clear headedness with the proper amount of sleep. But beyond these benefits that you can experience for yourself, there are deeper health consequences of your sleep patterns.
Click here to read about the study on sleep and longevity
What happens when we sleep?
We can all feel for ourselves how a perfect night’s sleep can make us feel great.But what actually happens in your brain when you sleep is a fascinating process. When we sleep, our bodies pass through several stages.
Our eyes begin to move as our brain shuts down its logical center, and we enter what is known as the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Cycle.
At each stage of the REM cycle, our bodies recover and reconnect. Althoughit may seem like nothing is happening in your brain when you sleep, the opposite is actually true. Your brain is firing on many cylinders, especially when you are deep in a dream.
Many scientists believe that during this time, your brain categorizes and processes the information acquired during waking hours.
According to Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, your body produces numerous natural antioxidants that prevent cellular and DNA damage, which ultimately causes disease. One of the powerful nocturnal antioxidants produced is melatonin. As you sleep, your body is removing the effects of free radicals that have been produced by stress throughout the day. This natural, nocturnal clean-up crew maintains physical balance without any effort.
How can we get the best sleep?
Now that we have a little bit of a better sense about the true nature of sleep, it’s important that each person try to figure out how they can optimize the benefits from sleep.
Doctors recommend between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Your deepest and most beneficial sleep occurs between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. After 2am, your sleep becomes more superficial. This has to do with your internal sleep regulator – the pineal gland, which regulates sleep patterns based on changes of light. Thus it’s an excellent idea to get to bed before midnight each night, and studies suggest that the later you go to bed past 10:00 pm, the longer it takes to get to sleep. It may take some getting used to for those of us who are inclined to think of ourselves as night owls, but your brain and body will thank you. To read more about the science of sleep and get some tips for resetting troublesome sleep patterns read this article.
Sleep is essential to good health.
Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and a soothing sleeping environment. Doing everything to make sure you are as relaxed as possible at bedtime will help you get the most regenerative sleep.
If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, check out this list of steps to better sleep
Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you have found this information of sleep helpful. Just like diet, hydration, and exercise, sleep is a huge part of your quality of life. And if you need any help motivating yourself to keep up with all of your health and wellness goals, read my post on tips for keeping your resolutions. If you have any questions or ideas, please leave a comment or feel free to contact me.
Best wishes for happy, and healthy life,