It’s 10 pm and too late to make a phone call, but how about just a few more emails? Stop. Make a quick to-do list for tomorrow, power down your computer and go to bed. You’ll get more done tomorrow, better and faster, if you get the proper amount of rest tonight. Here’s the science behind why sleep is as important to your health as diet and exercise.
Sleep Mode for Healing
Although it varies from person to person, we all need between seven and nine hours of sleep. But don’t think of it as a period of inactivity; your body carries out some processes more efficiently when you’re resting. In a night’s sleep, you’ll make four or five cycles of the stages of sleep that last between 90 and 120 minutes. During the first part of the night, you’ll spend time in slow-wave sleep, during which the body focuses on immune function and repair. Your white blood cells will circulate more and faster, helping to locate and destroy anything potentially hazardous. If you’re sleep deprived, your body will have fewer of these natural killer cells that can help ward off illness. Still not convinced? Insufficient sleep has also been linked to heart attack, stroke, diabetes and inflammation.
Sleep for Memory
By giving your brain rest between periods of daylight activity, you’re giving it a chance to sort out what’s what. When you reach the deeper phases of sleep, cerebrospinal fluid sweeps away any toxic or waste materials that have accumulated during the day. Once the conscious part of your mind is quiet, your brain can start to categorise the new experiences you’ve had into short-term and long-term memory. You’ll continue to practice new skills mentally even though your body is resting. Scientists have even shown napping after learning a new skill as helpful in retention. Sleeping for 20-30 minutes after studying, practicing or learning something new (giving a Reliv presentation anyone?) will improve your subsequent performance. Just be sure to find a quiet place to rest so your brain can focus on the task of strengthening your memories.
Sleep for Problem Solving
REM sleep, the deepest part of your sleep cycle, produces a perfect space for creativity. Have you been trying to solve a problem that seems impossible? Are you feeling stuck in a rut with your business? Scientists recommend that you contemplate your challenge as you’re going through your nightly routine. Don’t stress over the solution, just allow the problem to roll around freely in your thoughts. Later when you’re in deep sleep, your brain will have the chance to invent possibilities that you never could have when awake. Don’t be surprised if you wake up with an entirely new outlook on the conundrum, and maybe even a resolution!
Sleep for Appetite and Stress
Additionally, getting sufficient sleep can help control your weight and stress levels by stabilising hormones in the body. Sleep not only helps regulate appetite, but also activates reasoning in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. When you’re fully rested, that late night trip to the refrigerator might not seem so tempting. Although not always possible with a busy schedule, sleeping until you naturally wake up can help control your metabolism and keep your body efficient. There is science behind the advice to “sleep on it”—not just because time passes, but also because it gives the brain a chance to put stressors and temptations into perspective without a sense of immediacy.
What about you?
How do you make sure that you and your family get enough sleep? Do you shut down blue-light emitting electronic devices before bedtime? Pick up a good book to help you drift off or drink a ReversAge® shake to help revitalise your cells while you sleep? Let us know on Facebook and keep the conversation going. Sweet dreams!