Natren Probiotics

Sleep is not overrated

I had spent much of my life saying that sleep was overrated, and how wrong was I?  The truth is that sleep is when your body gets the opportunity to heal itself.  After battling the physical, mental and environmental issues all day your body needs this chance to help you rest and restore.  I always thought that I would be missing out on something, or if I just took one more hour to finish that project it could actually help me out the next day when really I was only making it harder on myself in the long run.  Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise, and if you don't give your body enough of it then you are actually reducing the effectiveness of any efforts you may be giving yourself.  It would be like running a marathon and then smoking a cigarette right after.

Understanding Sleep and how it works for you:

There are two main types of sleep:

  • Non-REM (NREM) sleep consists of four stages of sleep, each deeper than the last.
  • REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you do most active dreaming. Your eyes actually move back and forth during this stage, which is why it is called Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
The Stages of Sleep
Non-REM sleep
Stage 1 (Transition to sleep) – Stage 1 lasts about five minutes. Eyes move slowly under the eyelids, muscle activity slows down, and you are easily awakened.
Stage 2 (Light sleep) – This is the first stage of true sleep, lasting from 10 to 25 minutes. Eye movement stops, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.
Stage 3 (Deep sleep) – You’re difficult to awaken, and if you are awakened, you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes.
Stage 4 (More intense deep sleep) – The deepest stage of sleep. Brain waves are extremely slow. Blood flow is directed away from the brain and towards the muscles, restoring physical energy.
REM sleep
REM sleep (Dream sleep) – About 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep, you enter REM sleep, where dreaming occurs. Eyes move rapidly. Breathing is shallow. Heart rate and blood pressure increase. Arm and leg muscles are paralyzed.

The sleep cycle: Understanding the architecture of sleep

You may think that once you go to bed, you soon fall into a deep sleep that lasts for most of the night, progressing back into light sleep in the morning when it’s time to wake up. In reality, the sleep cycle is a lot more complicated.
Sleep Architecture

When you chart the sleep stages over the course of the night, the result looks like a city skyline—which is why it is called "sleep architecture"

During the night, your sleep follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between deep restorative sleep (deep sleep) and more alert stages and dreaming (REM sleep). Together, the stages of REM and non-REM sleep form a complete sleep cycle that repeats until you wake up.
The amount of time you spend in each stage of sleep changes as the night progresses. For example, most deep sleep occurs in the first half of the night. Later in the night, your REM sleep stages become longer, alternating with light Stage 2 sleep. This is why if you are sensitive to waking up in the middle of the night, it is probably in the early morning hours, not immediately after going to bed.

Having a hard time getting up? Take advantage of the 90-minute sleep cycle.

Even if you’ve enjoyed a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed isn’t easy if your alarm goes off when you’re in the middle of the deeper stages of sleep (especially stages 3 and 4). If you want to make mornings less painful, set a wake-up time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes, the length of the average sleep cycle. For example, if you go to bed at 10 p.m., set your alarm for 5:30 (a total of 7 ½ hours of sleep) instead of 6:00 or 6:30. You’ll feel more refreshed at 5:30 than you will with another 30 to 60 minutes of sleep, because you’re getting up when your body and brain are already close to wakefulness.

You may be sleep deprived if you...

  • Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time.
  • Rely on the snooze button.
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon.
  • Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms.
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving.
  • Need to nap to get through the day.
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening.
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends.
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed.
While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness.

The effects of sleep deprivation and chronic lack of sleep

  • Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems

Think six hours of sleep is enough?

Think again. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on 6 hours of sleep a night. But the gene is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.

How Many Hours of Sleep Do We Need?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than 7 hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, 6 or 7 hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more (see box at right). And despite the notion that sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

Myths and Facts about Sleep

Myth 1: Getting just 1 hour less sleep per night won’t effect your daytime functioning. You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day. But even slightly less sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly, and compromise your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.
Myth 2: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules. Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by 1–2 hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.
Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue. Not only is the quantity of sleep important but also the quality of sleep. Some people sleep 8 or 9 hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.
Myth 4: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends. Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your biological clock so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.

Adapted from Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (PDF) - The National Institutes of Health

How Sleep Effects Your Body

During sleep you enable your body to start producing human growth hormone (HGH). HGH, the protein hormone,  promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones by facilitating the use of amino acids (the essential building blocks of protein). Every tissue in the body is renewed faster while you are asleep.

Melatonin is another hormone produced helps you control body rhythms and sleep-wake cycles. Levels of melatonin rise as the body temperature falls, to encourage feelings of sleepiness. The opposite occurs to wake us up.

It is mostly during sleep that the sex hormone testosterone and the fertility hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone and leuteinising hormone, are secreted.

Immune system
Your immune system can benefit from proper sleep by aiding your body's ability to fight infection and resist more opportunities of infection.   Studies have shown that by getting proper amounts of sleep you are also increasing your bodies ability of producing higher levels of white blood cells and certain proteins which can aid your body's defense systems.

Our body also contain cells that aid in reducing cancer with a cancer killer called TNF, turmour necrosis factor.    Research has shown that people who stayed up until 3am had one-third fewer cells containing TNF the next day, and that the effectiveness of those remaining was greatly reduced.
We also have a built in clock called the circadian rhythm.  The circadian rhythm regulates all the processes of the body, from digestion to cell renewal. All these body rhythms are triggered by an action of a network of chemical messengers and nerves which are controlled by the circadian clock.
Ensuring regular periods of sleep at night lets the bodyclock regulate hormone production, helps you feel awake when you need to be awake and at rest while you need to sleep.

Body temperature
It is normal for your body temperature to slowly fall during sleep as your body is designed to,  low body temperatures increase your likelihood of sleeping deeply, allowing the body a chance to rest and rebuild.

The skin
Your skin depends on a deep sleep in order to help it repair from the damaging effects from the day.   As proteins are the building blocks for cell growth and repair on the inside, so are they for your skin.  While you are sleeping your skin's metabolic rate actually speeds up and allows the body's cells to increase their production while reducing the breakdown of those beneficial proteins, giving added meaning to getting your beauty sleep.

While sleeping your body gains the opportunity to relax giving it the opportunity for tissues to be repaired and restored.

During sleep, the cells and tissues that break down to produce toxic waste then become less active. This gives the chance for broken-down tissue to be rebuilt.  Studies have shown that during sleep your body is given the opportunity to detoxify your tissues through your bloodstream aiding in producing better lung, kidney, bowels, liver, and skin functions.

Digestive system
The body requires a regular supply of energy and its key source is glucose. This is constantly burned up to release energy for muscle contraction, nerve impulses and regulating body temperature.
When we sleep, your need for these energy reserves is reduced allowing your body more time to find the balance it needs to restore it's glucose levels.

In summary, your body and your life depend on you to get the sleep you need to function, fight disease, stay healthy mentally and physically.  Give your body the sleep you need and you can reclaim your life and your body.

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of I'm Holistic, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experiences of I'm Holistic. I'm Holistic encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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