A good night’s sleep is as important as diet and exercise towards maintaining your health. There’s empirical evidence that lack of sleep can lead to chronic fatigue and low brain function.
Sleep is important to almost every brain function – from neurons creating new pathways that improve your memory to removing toxins in your body.
Every living being needs sleep but there’s a surprising lack of research towards its biological purpose. The sleep rhythm affects almost every function and tissue of your body – from brain, lungs, heart to metabolism, mood, disease resistance and immune function.
What Is The Sleep Rhythm?
Your sleep cycle is controlled by an internal body clock called the circadian rhythm. Essentially, it’s a 24-hour clock that runs in the background processes of your body. It is what governs your sleepiness and wakefulness.
Basically, the circadian rhythm tells your body when it is time to wake up and when it’s time to go to sleep. It is controlled by the hypothalamus and regulated by melatonin, which takes its cues from external factors such as light and the environment. As it starts to get darker in the evening, your body releases melatonin, which instructs the brain to slow down and unwind. This is where the feeling of sleepiness kicks in. In the morning, when the light falls into your room, your brain knows that it’s time to wake up.
A consistent sleep time would help your body find its natural rhythm and settle into the sleep/wake cycle. If you keep changing the time you fall asleep, your body won’t be able to adjust to a set schedule.
On days when you’ve been deprived of sleep, you may find yourself sleeping deeply and for longer. That is due to sleep-wake homeostasis that keeps track of your length of sleep. Essentially, it regulates the intensity of your sleep.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
The amount of hours of sleep you need to feel at your optimum best changes as you grow older. Babies sleep for as many as 16 hours a day, which helps in brain development and growth, whereas adults can get by on as little as 5 hours a night.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends about 8 hours of sleep every night for adults and about 9-10 hours for kids. Many adults with irregular sleeping schedules complain of restless sleep, drowsiness and a decline in cognitive skills.
Experiencing the negative side effects of a restless sleep is never pleasant. This makes it important to have a schedule that is consistent and regular to keep the exhaustion and tiredness at bay.
Why Is Good Sleep So Important?
After a long tiring day, there’s nothing quite as comforting as falling asleep. Maintaining a regular sleep cycle is not just important for your energy levels, it’s also very good for your overall well being.
Besides this, here are four more reasons why it’s so important:
1. Helps You Live Longer
Not getting quality sleep that restores your energy levels puts you at a greater risk of mortality-at a genetic level. Research indicates that lack of sleep can considerably shorten your telomeres- found at the end of chromosomes, which are linked to aging. Shortened telomeres can affect the life cycle of cells which in turn can decrease life span.
2.Improves Concentration & Productivity
Good sleep has been linked with improved brain function and cognitive ability. A good night’s rest allows the neurons to form new pathways in your brain. This helps you create and retain memories for longer.
3. Improves Immunity
You may deal with a weaker immune system if you don’t get enough sleep. A study was conducted to see what the effect of sleep deprivation was on the immune system. 153 people were exposed to the cold virus. Findings showed that people with less sleep were more likely to be susceptible to the virus.
4. Maximizes Athletic Performance
A good night’s sleep can vastly improve your athletic performance. In a study conducted on basketball players, it was found that longer sleep duration had significantly improved their speed, endurance, stamina and response time.
How Can You Set A Sleep Schedule?
Like a lot of other people, you probably go to bed when you’re tired, and wake up when you have to. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a schedule or that you’re getting the sufficient amount of sleep.
So, how can you set a regular sleep schedule?
1. Get a lot of light during the day
Natural sunlight or bright light helps keep your circadian rhythm in check and healthy. This improves energy during the day and helps in intensity of sleep at night.
2. Eliminate all electronics before bed
Blue light emitted from your phone, laptop, and TV can trick your brain into thinking it’s still day time. This reduces the production of melatonin which can affect your quality of sleep.
3. Avoid late night caffeine
The energy boost you get from consuming coffee in the morning is great. But, it’s not as beneficial at night. During nighttime, caffeine stimulates your nervous system which will stop you from being able to relax and unwind.
4. Say no to daytime napping
It’s always tempting to catch a power nap in the afternoon, but in the long term it can impede your ability to sleep. Sleeping during the day can confuse your internal clock which means that you’ll struggle to sleep at night.
5. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times
Your body’s circadian rhythm resets itself every sunrise and sunset, on a loop. If you struggle with sleep, try to go to bed and wake up at similar times everyday. After a few weeks, you may not need an alarm.
Sleeping is as essential to your bodily functions as eating healthy and exercising is. Prioritizing your sleep schedule will definitely aid you in improving your quality of life. For people suffering from sleeping disorders, sleep therapy is an option.
If you have other troubles which stop you from getting the proper amount of rest, TABIIB can help. Click on the link to know more.