Benefits Of Sleep
All joking aside though, getting a good night’s sleep seems to be as elusive as getting a good coffee nowadays or a parking space.
And we all want the benefits of a good night’s sleep don’t we? Because we know it’s good for us.
We’ve read the articles – we know the spiel – and we’ve all seen the dark-circled, creased-faced dude from accounting drag himself in clutching his coffee…. And we don’t want to be him. We want to sleep. So, how can we get a better night’s sleep?
Here are Ripple’s top ten commandments of sleep:
- Thou shall have regular times for going to bed and waking up
- Thou shall not nap more than half an hour during the day
- Honour your exercise routine but not just before bedtime
- Thou shall use the bedroom for sleeping only. Not for working or watching movies
- Thou shall not smoke at all and thou shall cease drinking alcohol 4 hours before bedtime
- Thou shall not consumeth caffeine 6 hours before bedtime
- Thou shall shun the food that is sugary or spicy 4 hours before bedtime
- Thou shall commit to the trash any uncomfortable mattress and bedding
- Thou shall not bear distracting noise in thy room nor any light
- Thou shall keep thine room airy and at a comfortable temperature
If we were to create an eleventh commandment, then that would be to work on reducing any stress (and its source) in your everyday life.
While no two people are the same, eating healthy meals, exercising, meditating and getting regular relaxation massages seem to work pretty well for most as excellent ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
A relaxing massage in particular – delivers calm in a very short period of time. Give a Ripple massage therapist an hour and she will deliver a massage that lowers the heart rate, removes tension from muscles, reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
This will leave you feeling like the mellow, tranquil and composed person you wish you could be every single day. Will you sleep better that night? We can almost guarantee it!
So, what do you think happens during a good night’s sleep? We got curious and looked into it and here’s what we found:
Benefits Of Sleep
Our Brains Never Switch Off – Ever
In a nutshell: while we sleep our brain doesn’t. It is too busy. Busy processing, consolidating and filtering all of the day’s information. Special moments are cast to memory, the day’s tasks are ordered and catalogued and new ‘to-do’ lists are formed and prioritised.
Interestingly, while we are in the deepest stage, one of the benefits of sleep is that our brain quite literally takes out the day’s trash. While we snooze, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped more quickly throughout the brain, flushing away waste products such as toxic proteins and molecular debris so that we wake up with, quite literally, a clean slate.
But by far the most fascinating function happens during our peak dream time. At this point our brain turns off our motor neurons, causing us to become temporarily paralysed.
So there we lie – completely immobile. This clever mechanism means we are unable to act out any of our dreams and are therefore incapable of injuring ourselves (and others) as we dream of flying, boxing or riding horses into battle.
Our Heart Rate, Our Breathing And Almost Everything Else, Slows Down
Our body temperature cools and our blood pressure can drop by 5 to 7 points too.
There is an exception however. The consummate over-achiever in our body – the mighty liver – doesn’t slow down – instead, it rolls up its sleeves and changes function from a daytime detoxifier to a night spent regenerating itself.
We grow while we sleep.
Sure, if you’re an adult, you may not be growing taller – but you’re growing none the less. The secretion of certain growth hormones increases during sleep. We use these hormones to restructure muscle cells after an intense workout for example, or to heal an injury.
Interestingly, if we under-sleep, we run the risk of growing in another way. Scientists believe that the hunger-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin (which play a role in our feelings of hunger and fullness) ‘misbehave’ if we don’t get enough sleep. We may therefore feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.
The Gang Of Glands.
The system controls insulin and cortisol levels in such a way that we wake up feeling hungry – this prompts us to eat breakfast – and hey presto! We’re nutritionally equipped for the day ahead.
If the endocrine system could, it would lick our hair down and kiss us on the forehead as we head off to work.
As we read about all these functions, it becomes pretty obvious that if sleep is disrupted or cut short on a regular basis, our bodies don’t have the time necessary to complete some very crucial tasks.
This leaves us looking and feeling like poorer versions of ourselves as we are less able to concentrate, make decisions, or to engage fully in work, study and social activities during our daylight hours.
As a wise person once said, “Not getting enough sleep turns us all into very tall two-year-olds” which is something well worth avoiding!
The Australian Sleep Health Foundation (ASHF), states that a lack of sleep can contribute negatively to our mood too. “Without good sleep,” they say, “you can end up irritable, snappy and teary, which impacts on your personal and professional relationships.”
Our well-meaning bodies will try to compensate for this by activating the adrenal glands and sending hits of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, to the body. “This acts like little caffeine shots,” the ASHF states. “While this may work in the short-term, it’s not good in the long run as frequent spikes in cortisol can lead to high blood pressure and weight gain.”
So, there it is – there’s no getting away from it – if we ‘d like to feel and look great, stay healthy and perform to the best of our abilities, getting a restful night’s sleep needs to be at the very top of our ‘to-do’ list.