Why sleep is so important
Lack of Sleep = More Fat, Less Brainpower
How much you sleep is directly related to how well you feel the next day. Most people generally need 7 hours or more of sleep per night in order to function at their best. Yet, we rarely get enough to feel our best.
Sleep helps regulate our metabolism, blood sugar, insulin levels and restores our immune, nervous and musculoskeletal systems. This means, when we get enough sleep we keep the weight off and our bodies can heal properly. When we have adequate sleep we have better memory recall, think and learn better.
Our Master Regulator of Sleep, the Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), regulates our circadian rhythm, the internally driven, 24 hour clock that cues physical, mental and behavioral processes including sleeping and waking.
Our circadian rhythm is affected by external cues like daylight and darkness. Getting enough light is great in the daytime but prevents you from sleeping well if you get too much light in the evening. Before electric or gas lights we would generally sleep when it got dark and waken when the sun came up. This natural light/dark cycle drove our circadian rhythms and our sleep schedules. Now we have ipads, iPhones, e-readers, 55" HDTV's and computers that interfere with this natural light dark/cycle thus we are getting less and less sleep because of this.
We are busy and stressed with so much on our to-do lists we end up staying up late getting things done thus making it difficult for our minds to stop spinning in order to get proper sleep. If you stay up too late you get a surge of cortisol that keeps you awake even longer making it even more difficult to get proper rest so your body can heal. It is best to go to bed before 10pm every night to avoid this extra cortisol surge.
What should we do in order to have a proper sleep routine?
1) Turn off all electronics 1 hr before bed
2) Dim all lights as much as you can 1 hour before bed.
3) Write down your to-do list before you go to bed in order to stop your mind from spinning and stressing out about tomorrow.
4) Try to use the light/dark cycles to help you get your Z's. During your awake hours, get as much bright light as possible.