Your sleep needs vary widely — total hours required, optimal bedtimes, and ideal wakeup times, these are all dictated by an individual’s physiology, genetics, exercise levels, diet, and age group. Even the habits you formed as a child are influencing bed time habits, but whatever your needs are, getting adequate and effective sleep is crucial for your optimal daily functioning.
What does sleep do for you?
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Neuro-science tells us that the space between brain cells increases during sleep, giving the brain the ability to clear toxins. Your brain forms new pathways for memory and knowledge acquisition and consolidates the learnings you accumulated during the day. After a good night’s sleep, you have a greater attention span, make quicker decisions, and are more creative.
Physically, your body uses this time for organ repair — your heart, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, etc. While you are sleeping, your body has the time to produce more white blood cells that are necessary to strengthen and maintain your immune system. Benefits of your daily exercise routine are generated through your sleep cycle. Sleep also regulates hormones related to hunger (ghrelin) and satiety (leptin).
Problems with poor quality sleep
Do you feel hungry late at nights? This comes to no surprise because staying awake late nights will force your sugar cravings through the roof. Your body has its own biological clock, the Circadian rhythm. Sleep and wake times are built into your DNA. Once you force your brain to stay awake longer than it should, you are forcing it to look for a quick source of energy.
Sleep also affects the way insulin is regulated in your body. Imbalances of insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and other hormones can impact metabolism, calorie consumption, and body weight, affecting many aspects of health, wellness, performance, and personality on a day-to-day basis.
Tips for effective sleep
At the end of the day, you are as efficient as your sleep. In order to boost your body and brain performance, sleep is your number one tool to transform into your best self.
Get sunlight by going outside within 30-60 minutes of waking up.Do that again in the late afternoon, prior to sunset. Sunlight on skin promotes serotonin (hormone that promotes calm and focus) which is converted to melatonin (sleep hormone).
Wake up at the same time each day and go to sleep when you first start to feel sleepy.Going to sleep too late is one reason people wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Avoid caffeine within 8-10 hours of bedtime. Switch to decaf coffees and caffeine-free organic energy boosters.
Avoid viewing bright lights — especially bright overhead lights between 10PM and 4AM. Here is a simple rule: only use as much artificial lighting as is necessary for you to remain and move about safely at night. Viewing bright lights of all colours are a problem for your Circadian system. Candlelight and moonlight are fine.
Use your nutrition to nourish your body with magnesium rich organic foods that do not cause inflammation on your body.Trans fat (oils) and sugars are disturbing the balance of your hormones. Focus on quality organic proteins and essential fats.
Clear your mind!Unload your brain by writing down what bothers you. This will help organise your thoughts and make daunting tasks easy.