What really happens in your body when you sleep? Do you find yourself constantly feeling tired after waking in the morning? Do you have issue with weight gain, sugar regulation, low mood levels?
When we don’t get a deep restful sleep on a regular basis, this can affect our life in a major way. At times we may not even realise how a lack of sleep affects our life. Poor sleep can also be associated with metabolism issues, raised blood pressure, thyroid issues, or depression.
A lot of people may not be aware of what our circadian rhythm is. It is one of the most important functions in our body, it helps regulate our sleep/wake cycle and so much more. This alone is the subject of another article.
You may have heard or read that we need to get to bed before 10pm, and this is very important. By getting to bed early, it helps to regulate our circadian rhythm. Also the amount of daylight we get during the day and especially after getting up in the morning, ideally between 6am-7:30am, helps to regulate our circadian rhythm.
It is at night time, when we are asleep that our body goes through a repair and rejuvenation cycle. Organs have particular times during the day and night, when they go through this cycle and also our brain. Our body uses a lot of energy at night for this process, and to do this, it draws on our fat reserves.
The most important hours of sleep is between 10pm and 2pm. Our body produces several very important hormones at night time. Between 10pm and 2pm it produces:
- Growth hormone, which is vital for the regeneration of the cells and organs in our body.
- Melatonin, produced by the Pineal gland, is used to help us sleep and control our sleep/wake cycle.
- DHEA, produced by our Adrenal glands and is used to make testosterone, which is again vital for the repair and regeneration of the varous parts of our body.
Another very important reason to get good sleep on a regular basis, is to support the Glymphatic system of the brain. You may have heard about the Lymphatic system of the body, which helps to clear waste products from our body. The glymphatic system is what clears the waste products from our brains daily activity, while we sleep. It does this by pushing cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, like a power washer, to flush out the brain.
When we eat high carbohydrate foods before bed, this increases our insulin levels. This then affects the efficiency of our body and brain to do its cleanup and repair work at night time. Ideally we should not eat 2-3 hours before sleep, so that we do not have a high level of insulin flowing around in our bodies while we sleep.
Amyloid is a protein that clumps together to form plaque in Alzheimer’s disease. We all produce this protein and it is the Glymphatic system that helps to prevent the build up of this plaque in the brain.
By going to bed late in the night or not getting deep restful sleep, you are disrupting this cleanup and regeneration of your bodies organs and tissues and the cleanup of your brain. You are living on yesterdays proteins. This then over time, may affect your health, and not for the better.
So, what can you do to ensure you get a better sleep at night?
Some tips are:
- Ensure you are in bed for 10pm
- Keep your bedroom cool as when your body is cooler, you may sleep better
- Ensure your bedroom is completely dark, it helps with Melatonin production
- Avoid Alcohol before sleep as it lessens the amount of time you are in REM sleep which is the deepest phase of our sleep.
- Avoid blue light from computers, phones, TV, ipads 1-2 hours before bed. Blue light from electronic devices mimics daylight. You can get blue light blocking glasses to help with this.
- Don’t take any devices into your bedroom at night, if you use your phone as an alarm clock, put it on Airplane mode
- Don’t drink caffeine after 4pm, or make it 2pm if you can
- Stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bed, as it will disrupt what is called autophagy, the process of clearing out damaged cells so that newer healthier cells can be regenerated
- Get direct sun light within 30 minutes after getting up. This helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and reset our melatonin clock. If you can’t get sunlight, you can buy a SAD lamp that replicates daylight. Ensure it is 10,000 LUX and sit infront of it after getting up so that it hits your Pineal and eyes. Don’t look directly into the light. You can use it while meditating in the morning or having breakfast.
- Have a cold shower after getting up, it helps to wake the body!!!
Start gradually with implementing some of these night time practices, to make them part of your bedtime routine.
If there is anything in this article you would like to chat about, feel free to get in touch.
A Healthy Mind, A Healthy Body, A Healthy Life!