One aspect of life that is often undervalued is sleep. Your nighttime slumbers are as crucial as your diet and exercise regimen in keeping your body healthy. It reduces your stress levels and allows your mind to cool down from all the daytime activity.
Your Body and Mind at Rest
The human body is at a constant state of degradation (catabolism) and renewal (anabolism). This is the reason you shed bits of your skin and why your nails and hair continually grow. In 7-10 years, your body would have destroyed and renewed all of its cells. Throughout a typical day, your body shifts from periods of catabolism and anabolism. Wakefulness shifts the balance to catabolism, and sleep brings your body back into an anabolic state.
Infection, injury, or trauma also shifts the balance towards catabolism, increasing the body’s production of cortisol, glucagon, catecholamines, and other catabolic hormones. In a catabolic state, the body loses protein, leading to a degradation of your muscles. Sleep inhibits the production of cortisol and other catabolic hormones while increasing the production of insulin, testosterone, and other anabolic hormones. Sleep also induces your body to produce growth hormones that increase the synthesis of protein while preventing catabolic reactions in the amino acids in your body by utilizing free fatty acids as energy.
The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
Waking up to a good night’s sleep will make you more alert and energetic throughout the day. Sleep reduces your stress hormones and allows your brain to sort and file your memories and experience. If you’re feeling forgetful and flummoxed, it might be a sign that you need to get more ZZZs. While sleep won’t make you smarter, it can make you sharper, more focused, and more attentive to detail. Sleep also increases your body’s production of protein, allowing you to fend off diseases and heal from injuries. It also lowers your blood pressure and regulates your body’s production of insulin. Research has shown that lack of sleep can increase your risk of strokes and type 2 diabetes.
Get to Sleep On Time
Sleeping should be an easy task, but a multitude of people are having problems sleeping on time. One reason for this is artificial light. Your body follows a natural circadian rhythm based on the sun. Artificial light can confuse your body’s biological clock, tricking it into believing it is still daytime. Dim your lights a few hours before bedtime and try to avoid your phone, laptop, or anything with a bright screen. Stress can also keep you awake. Learn to release it through exercise or let go of it through meditation. Take a weekend trip to a yoga or meditation center and learn relaxation techniques for both your mind and body. Ditch the afternoon coffee and stick to water. Caffeine can stay in your system for 6-8 hours, but milk works well in inducing sleep.
Don’t disregard the importance of sleep. Proper sleep keeps your body and mind healthy while increasing your productivity and cheerfulness throughout the day.