How important is our sleep?
Before I dived deeper into this subject, here is how I treated sleep ever since:
1) I don’t watch or use phone post 9 pm. Old habit
2) I sleep in absolute darkness
3) I would go to bed inadvertently btw 9 to 10, shut off light and just lie down. Obviously I dont find sleep sometimes but I would never switch on light or look at my phone
4) I have always exercised all my life in the morning
5) I always find quality sleep of 8 hours
6) I have always been against having tv in my bedroom
Regardless of the place/space, all my recovery/relaxation sessions always finish with ‘savasana’ with students finding themselves in deep sleep with no idea of their existence. Its not easy to achieve this with young population and therefore, one needs to understand the physiology, brain, breath, age & their perception, which body part needs attention, etc.
I wonder why????
Now lets corelate this with my health and what science says about sleep:
Optimal sleep – 7 to 9 hours as confirmed by scientists via researches
1) Firstly, sleep is a scientific way to relax our body via resting the sympathetic nervous system (shifting to parasympathetic). Example: decreasing cortisol levels that further effect lot of hormonal and brain interactions to have impact on relaxation. It can regulate our blood pressure and bring it down to 25% as shown in researches.
2) The sleep hormone ‘melatonin’ must be released in the system to find our sleep. Now this release of hormone is directly related to darkness. In one of the researches, even slightest of blue light in the room have decreased the level of melatonin hormones disrupting sleep because even our skin can sense the light and have implications on hormone release.
3) The sleep seem to disrupt our metabolic machinery as well. A research showed suppression of ‘leptin’ hormone (satiety hormone) after students were deprived of sleep. This suppression would mean you will feel hungry unnecessarily when your body is actually in fed state. Gives way to weight gain/diabetes. Do fat people sleep well?
3) The sleep burns fat. Yes. One of the researches showed significant difference in fat loss during sleep btw students who slept 8 hours Vs who sleep 5 hours. The ones who sleep 8 burnt 50% more fat overnight. Interestingly the hormone melatonin mobilizes brown adipose tissue that further effect fat loss
Analogy – big political big wigs are generally light eaters and yet fat
4) The sleep can be disrupted because of varied thermal regulation. In one research they made subjects wear thermal suits that regulated their skin temperature. Leave aside body’s core temperature, just skin could induce thermal regulation to effect good sleep.
5) As per scientists, brain neuroplasticity (change of brain) best happens in deep sleep.
Ques: What if you sleep less and can’t sleep for long hours?
Well, I am always been a believer, we are all different individuals. It may be possible that a person can get all benefits from short sleep vis-a-vis long sleep. However, sleeping with free mind, positivity, calmness and finding deep sleep to me is where it matters the most.
How do you impact your sleep for better?
1) Blue rays seem to have huge impact on melatonin hormone production responsible for sleep. In fact, this hormone is also called ‘hormone of darkness’. So get rid of your phones, laptops, or any screens in time to find sleep at your regular hour
2) Darkness – this is the basic fundamental. We have photo receptors to gauge our biological time. If we keep sitting in light then obviously it will disrupt the process of hormone release
3) Its the quality of sleep that matters. One research has shown to have improved sleep when students exercised in the morning as compare to evening. Every small bit helps.
4) One thing that I do and I often suggest this to my clients is sleeping with positive thoughts. No matter what your stress is, do not bring it on bed. Interrupt your thought process intentionally if it is stressful. Bring it back to positivity
5) Another personal experience is lie down with lights off. Think about something that needs your attention but again, keep your thoughts positive.
I agree that sometimes it is not easy to sleep. However, once you have a routine and if you make an effort then one can definitely improve your sleep.