It may come as a surprise to you, but sleeping is actually a productive activity, despite the fact that we lay there still.
As the brain gathers data throughout the day, learns new skills and forms daily events into memories, it requires time to sort and organize. This occurs while we sleep. Our brains go into organization mode where, if you will imagine, a librarian begins filing, sorting, and discarding information. If something gets in the way and doesn’t allow the librarian to do their job, we end up with a disorganized brain, full of clutter. And if anyone has tried to navigate around a teenagers room with items thrown around top to bottom, you will know it’s like walking through a cluttered maze.
This dysfunction leads to a polluted environment manifesting into health issues, hormonal imbalances, and inflammation to name a few.
Sleep allows the body to release vital hormones like cortisol and growth hormone so that our muscles can repair and recover. It allows our adrenal glands to rest, and our liver to detox. Without proper sleep, the body breaks down and we start to see a host of symptoms and health issues. Everything from hormonal imbalances, weight gain, mental confusion, kidney and liver dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, muscle aches and pains, digestion issues, low libido …. shall I go on?
So how much sleep do we need? Most adults will want to aim for 7-9 hours, but the need will depend on what is going on in the persons life. If you are recovering from an injury or illness, or are under increased stress, your body will need more sleep.
What controls how long we sleep? Circadian rhythm. They determine sleep patterns, energy levels, hormone production, body temperature, cell regeneration… basically everything your body needs to remain healthy. When we are in a balanced state, the Circadian rhythm is in tune with nature. This is why your body, in most cases, is ready to wake with sunlight, and wind down when the sun sets.
This “master” clock resides in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus (more specifically the SCN). This area of the brain responds to dark and light so that when the sun sets, your brain produces more melatonin, which makes you sleepy.
Want to help your body sleep more? Turn off the lights, remove distraction and allow your body to do its job to keep you healthy and happy.