What if we told you that the key to better health simply begins with a good night’s sleep. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! The impact of a good night’s rest can make all the difference towards better health and care. This month daylight savings time begins on March 10 and this can impact our sleep schedule for awhile, so it’s important to evaluate your own sleep quality and schedule to feel better. Sleep is a vital part of keeping us healthy and to better utilize the power of sleep in your life, you must first better understand sleeping.
First, our bodies each have a natural circadian rhythm- our basic internal clock. This clock has a 24-hour cycle of change and fluctuations within our body that impacts our physiological, behavioral, and emotional functions.
The second part is to understand there are also cycles and stages of sleep. On average, a 7-8 hour night’s sleep should contain 4-5 sleep cycles. Each cycle lasts approximately 90-120 minutes. Within each of these cycles there are also four stages of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is also known as ‘dream’ sleep.
It is essential to hit each of these cycles and stages to help ensure that the body and mind get fully recharged and repaired so that when we wake up we are better physically and emotionally ready for the day. It is also during the deepest stages of sleep and dream that healing takes place in the body. Several essential functions happen in the body during sleep including:
- Muscles, bones, and joints heal and grow
- Skin and connective tissue regenerate
- Cells repair
- Hormones are regulated
- Daytime learning is retained
- Stress and inflammation are reduced
- Immunity is strengthened
- Emotions are processed
- New memories are cemented
- Stress is relieved
You can see from this substantial list, that if you fail to sleep long enough to reach all of the stages and cycles of a good night’s sleep it is harder for your body and mind to feel well, fight off infections, and overcome diseases.
So you may be thinking- Yahoo! I need to tell my boss that I need more naps and need some extra sleep-in time so I am at my optimum level for work. Sadly, it’s not so. There are detriments to sleeping too much as well. As an adult, if you consistently sleep more than nine hours in a day, research shows that it begins to have a negative impact on the body. Problems that begin to occur include increased confusion, depression, impaired memory; slowing of metabolic rates, gastric reflux; loss of muscle strength, urinary tract infections, blood vessel damage, respiratory infections; and more.
We hope that if you are trying to work towards feeling better and being healthy, that you take a second look at your sleeping patterns and talk with your doctor if you have concerns. A good night’s sleep truly can make a difference in your daily attitude and overall health!