As much as we hate to admit it, sleeping plays a vital part in the process for your body to recover and regenerate. Research says you need at least seven hours of good sleep every night. It takes that much time for your body to repair cells, muscles, gather all the information and add to your new memories, and keep the parts of your body operating at their ultimate best, inside and out. So, here is a little information on the nitty gritty of what happens while you sleep.
Sleep Is a Stress Reliever
If you start getting less than seven hours of sleep every night, you will begin to feel like you are not rested nor do you feel balanced the next day. Many Americans say that if they don’t get enough sleep that they feel more stressed the next day and that makes sense. They also noted that they had moments of irritability, that they lacked motivation, and felt overwhelmed.
It also goes so far as to say it can cause noticeable variations in brain activity, lower the levels of alertness, and this can include lack of motivation, fatigue, and occasionally falling asleep. Changes in concentration, mathematical capacity, working memory, and logical reasoning are noted as well. Sleep deprivation can cause you the undue stress and create general performance issues that are all managed by your prefrontal cortex which is the front part of your brain and is vulnerable when it does not get enough sleep.
Sleep Is All About the Brain
The recovery you feel from sleep can do wonders for your entire body. Don’t worry, your brain functions thrive on it as well, because it is given time to slow down. Through the day, you probably realize your brain is going at top speed, but when you first go to sleep, your body will enter several of the sleep stages that target your brain activity and brain waves, telling them they can take a break.
Let’s break it down a little; there are basically three stages of (non-REM) non-rapid eye movement sleep. These three stages are when the body changes from its alert mode to sleep mode. The non-REM sleep is when your breathing and heartbeat slow down. It is followed by your brain waves slowing down as you slip off into the (REM) rapid eye movement stage of sleep. During REM sleep, the brain picks back up on the wave activity kind of like when you are awake, and this might explain the reason we dream during that stage.
Sleep Is an Immune System Booster
Your body’s immune system has a very tough job all day long as it is your body’s defense system to protect your entire body from viruses and diseases. Making time to rest and allow your immune system to build up more defenses is the best way to thank it for giving you protection. While you are getting those night time Zzzs, your immune system is working to release the proteins we call cytokines. The cytokines are there to protect you and make you feel sleepy daily. When you get sick and start fighting some type of infection, the body makes more of them. So, if you don’t get the sleep you need, those extra cytokines will never make it, and if you get sick, your body will have a much harder time fighting off infections.
Sleep Is a Healing Power
When you turn off your computer at the end of the day, we hope it will do what it is supposed to do and install all the updates, repair any issues it might have, so when you turn it one the next morning, it will be ready to work. That is sort of the way your body works. When you go to sleep for the night, a recovery process begins. It can restore the parts of your body that needs help like cellular and molecular changes after awakening.
You will find that after you have gotten the rest it needed, it will replenish the excessively used white blood cells. Your white blood cells will help keep infections away. If you get an injury (no matter how small or big), sleeping will promote tissue and cell growth, and that will boost the healing process. If you combine all that information with the knowledge that sleep will re-energize your metabolism and muscles, it makes it clear that while you sleep there is some potent stuff happening in your body.
If you like to lift weights or exercise, sleep should be more important to you as a component of your exercise routine. Your body needs time to recover your muscles. While you are sleeping, your muscles will take in more oxygen and nutrients to assist in healing and growth.
Sleep stimulates the pituitary gland so it will release the human growth hormones that aid in tissue regrowth and muscle repair. Because any physical activity puts stress on your nervous system and muscles, they both could use some tender loving care every night while you sleep.
Sleep Is a Fickle Thing
We have talked about getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, but why just seven hours? Is that some magic number pulled out of the air? Sleep Medicine Physicians tell you less than seven hours a night is not enough to restore your body completely every night. The same as if you don’t let your computer get done with its updates, it acts up all day long.
Naps anyone? It is tempting to take a siesta after lunch when you get drowsy at your desk. Naps can give you a short-term boost in your performance and alertness, but they still won’t give you the benefits of that night-time sleep. Do not think that you are making up for the sleep you have lost by taking a nap. Those hours are needed to be used for sleeping at night. On a ‘short-term’ note, the little perk you get after a short snooze will not hurt.
Sleep is a very crucial part of your day for all kinds of reasons. Your body will thank you for the proper rest.
To get that good night’s sleep consider the following:
- Don’t eat any heavy snacks or foods before going to bed and don’t drink any alcohol or drink any caffeine.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature, so it is your haven for sleeping.
- Stick to your schedule. After you get that nightly routine down remember consistency is your key.
- At bedtime, turn off your TV, and put down your phone. The lights are so bright they will keep stimulating your brain, and you may not even realize it.