Everyone knows sleep is important. But why?
Countless research studies show that not getting enough sleep is strongly correlated with an endless list of detriments.
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- high blood pressure
While you are trying to learn something new, make sure to find time to sleep. While asleep your brain goes through a process called consolidation. It processes and strengthens new neural connections in order to store what you learned in long term memory.
A research study from Stanford University shows that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for 7-8 weeks improved their average sprint time and had more stamina. Studies with tennis players and swimmers showed similar results.
Usually when we’re awake in the evening, we have the light on. Our bodies aren’t used to light for so many hours and this screws with our hormone production. Long days make our bodies think it’s constantly summer. Our ancestors only craved sugar during the summer when they could get berries. When there are no berries, they didn’t crave sugar or it would have driven them crazy. Endless summer creates an endless appetite for carbs.
When healthy, your body maintains a balance between stress and relaxation. This is regulated by cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol is in charge of wakeful states and it peaks in the morning. Towards the evening it starts to dip and melatonin takes over during sleep.
Exposure to light and stress also cause cortisol. When you don’t sleep to give it a break, your hormone cycle becomes imbalanced and your circadian rhythms are disrupted.
Sometimes even if you try to fall asleep, you are too stressed out and lay awake worrying. In this case your cortisol is stuck in overdrive. Sleep deprivation it itself a stressor, so the cycle becomes self-perpetuating. Keep reading to find out what you can do to break this cycle…
Multiple studies show persistent sleep problems can significantly increase the risk of relapse of depression and may also delay your response to treatment.
“At the turn of the century, the light bulb was invented and we suddenly had the capacity to take two days to one. In the normalcy of the planet spinning in and out of sunlight, we have something called dusk. The pink light blocks the blue light and you can take melatonin and turn it into serotonin. But when you are never subjected to dusk or dawn, the serotonin keeps going up until it rebounds back to dopamine. So you can stay awake, but when you do, you’ve missed all kinds of critical changes of neurotransmitters. That happened because of the lightbulb. When light became cheap, human beings started abusing it like drugs and it makes you sick.”
T.S. Wiley says there’s no answer to how much should we sleep. She suggests we go to bed about two hours after dark and get up when the sun comes up. The same way our ancestors did in cave man days. So how many hours we sleep per night will change from season to season.
Here’s What You Can Do to Relax and Optimize Your Sleep
- Since blue light inhibits melatonin production, cover up all blinking things in your room like the cable box, smoke detector and lights from the outside. Make your room as dark as you possibly can.
- Wear blue blocking glasses a few hours before bedtime
- Change your bedroom light bulbs to red to remove all trace of blue light. (It also sets a very romantic calming mood.)
- Download f.lux on your computer to automatically dim your screen and block blue. You won’t even notice it.
- Sex is always good before bed.
- Don’t exercise before bed. That shoots up your cortisol and keeps you awake. Exercise is best first thing in the morning.
- Meditate to reduce cortisol. I love the Head Space App.
- Another way to relax is to fall asleep listening to Letting Go Of Stress by Emmett Miller & Steven Halpern. You can get it on iTunes. This is great for any time you’re feeling anxiety.
Will this affect your social life? Yes, but so will cancer and obesity.