Sleep: Top Priority For Your Health

What is the most productive action you can take for your health?

What is the most productive action you can take for your health? Most people would probably not answer “sleep more”. We have grown to think of time spent “just sleeping” as unproductive time, but in actuality, scientists have discovered that our brains are just as busy at night, if not busier, than they are during the day. So what are our brains and bodies so busy doing while we are “resting”?

What is the most productive action you can take for your health?

When you power down from the day, your body actually goes to “work” by repairing and regenerating overnight. By getting the right quantity and more importantly, the right quality of sleep, you empower your body to promote physical healing, mental acuity, and even improve your psychological health by allowing the brain to attend to other areas of the body that might need some help. Proper sleep might just be the most holistic thing you can do for your overall health and wellness.


Rest and regeneration for better overall health:

During sleep, your body goes to work repairing the “armor” that protects your body every day—your immune system. In your brain there are immune cells called microglia that are known for fighting infections, repairing damage and reorganizing the connection between nerve cells. A recent study found that microglia are primarily active during sleep. In addition, the body also produces white blood cells at a higher rate during sleep, boosting the body’s immune system and making it better equipped to fight viruses and bacteria.

In the deeper stages of sleep, your brain signals your body to lower your blood pressure, slow down your breathing and relax your muscles. Your brain then floods your body with growth hormones and works on tissue growth, blood vessel repair and muscle development. At the same time, the brain is also better able to regulate “stress hormones” like cortisol.

Improving your sleep will also go a long way to improving your brain health. During sleep, your body goes into detox mode. When you sleep, your brain increases the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid flushes out the harmful waste proteins that build up in the brain cells. (1) Getting rid of these and other toxins may even help decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Let’s appreciate how truly amazing it is that all of these critical functions are being re-balanced and repaired during a time we normally associate with “nothing happening over here” Your body is the most advanced “machine” ever created. All you have to do is set yourself up for success by making small changes to improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Not always easy to do in today’s world, but the return on investment is priceless.


How much sleep do you really get?

So now you know just how important sleep is to feeling great and performing better on a daily basis. But one obstacle we may face is our own perception of how much sleep we need and whether we are even close to getting the right amount of shut eye each night. This is because human beings are really terrible at estimating how much sleep they actually get. Most of us either overestimate or underestimate our hours of sleep, scientists say. (3) Those who get the least amount of sleep overestimate their time sleeping the most! Even if we have an accurate picture of how much sleep we need, the next obstacle is making sure that the hours of sleep we’re getting are of good quality, and consistency over time.


Quality Control: How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Not only is it important to get enough hours of sleep, it also matters how much time you spend in what is referred to as “deep sleep” also known as “delta sleep” or “slow-wave sleep”. It is during deep sleep, that glucose metabolism increases and the pituitary gland secretes human growth hormones and other hormones that restore energy, regenerate cells, increase blood supply to the muscles, promote growth and repair of bones and tissues and strengthen your immune system.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of solid sleep a night. If you are not hitting this mark there are some simple things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep:

  • Have a consistent bedtime schedule, going to sleep and waking at the same time each day.
  • Limit clutter, noise, and light in the bedroom.
  • Exercise, but not right before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine nicotine and alcohol late in the day.
  • Keep your bedroom a comfortable, slightly cool temperature.
  • Get your brain prepped by starting the relaxation process at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Try putting away the phone and picking up an old book; or closing your eyes and listening to some music.
  • Limit blue light from electronics before bed.

Want to know if you’re getting the right quantity and quality of sleep to feel your best every day? Let our Genesis coaches give you a complimentary coaching session to assess your sleep habits, and make recommendations on how you can improve this critical area of your life…starting tonight!


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