By Dr. Rafael Ramon; Acru Health: Precision Chiropractic
We all know that we should get more sleep, but what is the lack of sleep actually doing to our bodies? We tend to sacrifice your sleep for friends, work, family, or the next big thing. While I can respect the fact that so many of you are trying to do something amazing with your life, you have to realize that quality sleep is a non-negotiable. What ever you are trying to accomplish it can be done faster and with a higher level of quality if you are recharging the battery to its full level each and every night.
I want you to imagine your body as an iPhone. You would never leave the house to take on the day without making sure your phone has a full charge. Now I understand that some days you do, and that is the beauty of this, not everything has to be perfect. When you sleep you engage the parasympathetic aspect of your nervous system. That is the part of your brain that is in charge of sending out informational signals that tell your body how to heal and repair damaged tissues. It controls the immune system, rebuilds your muscles, regulates hormonal production, it activates the anabolic state that basically rebuilds and keeps you youthful.
Newsflash: When you sleep you are entering the deepest and strongest state of parasympathetic activity.
When you are not getting a large amount of good quality sleep you start to enter a state of sleep debt. Just like with a credit card, you can survive with a small amount of debt but it will continue to accumulate over time. Eventually our very adaptable bodies hit a wall and become overwhelmed with the amount of sleep debt…this is when we enter the sleep deprivation state. These effects suck for lack a better term. The dangers of sleep deprivation include immune system failure, diabetes, memory loss, depression, oh and let us not forget obesity. The list goes on but we don’t have time to sit here and scare you, we want to help you improve the quality of your sleep so that keep doing what you love and allow your body to heal and repair from the stressors of life. Lets look at three of the simplest tips for improving your sleep tonight.
Don’t channel surf before bed! Actually don’t watch T.V. or use any electrical devices that have screens for a full hour before you go to sleep. This includes computers, tablets, and phones. When you look at the screen of your T.V. or device you are exposing yourself to an artificial blue spectrum light. This “blue light” tricks your body into producing more daytime hormones like cortisol and sets up a roadblock for your body’s natural sleep preparation phase. Now if you’re saying “there is no way I can not be on my computer before bed, I have e-mails to answer or work to do” then please do the next best thing. There are apps that block the blue spectrum light from exiting your computer (Unblue). If you have to use your devices please get these installed, your body will thank you for it. The newest apple update for iOS actually has a built in button called “night shift” that does this for you.
The Caffeine Curfew:
It may seem like common sense but when you drink caffeine it will arouse an alert state. While this may be a good thing in the morning, it can keep you awake when you drink it too late in the day. Caffeine mimics the structure and shape of something called adenosine in your body. Adenosine will act as a central nervous system depressant that helps your body move into a relaxed state and prepare you for a great night’s sleep. When Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor sites there is no longer room for the adenosine to bind, therefore not letting your body move into the stages of sleep preparation. Depending on your tolerance, and how your body reacts to caffeine, your curfew may differ. I would say that a great starting point is 4:00pm. Try not to drink anything with caffeine after that cutoff time and watch your sleep (and life) improve.
Early to bed, Early to rise:
We all have sleeping patterns and rhythms that our bodies become accustomed to. Some of us believe that we are night owls, while others believe that we are morning people. The reality is that you are what you repeatedly do, so if you stay up late every night then yes, you will become a night owl. Get it? The human body is designed to sleep when it’s dark and you should be awake when it is light. This causes our bodies to produce different hormones when we are in the light vs. in the dark. If your goals include: building and repairing muscle, burning fat, and balancing your hormone production then you are going to want to make sure you are getting to bed at a decent hour.
These are just a few tips to improve the quality of your sleep and unlock your body’s amazing potential for health. Stay tuned for more information on other topics in order to be as healthy as possible.
Don’t forget… Life can be challenging and the stresses of our days tend to beat us up. It is imperative that we get enough sleep and allow our bodies to recover and recharge. You heal when you sleep, so enjoy it.
-Dr. Rafael Ramon