Many of us will spend countless hours exercising, meditating and eating healthy organic foods, aiming for optimal health. We rise every day ready to tackle all sort things. We set out to accomplish as much as possible, giving it our best. We often go around taking care of everything and everyone until we literally drop from exhaustion at the end of the day only to find ourselves checking our social media and catching on up favorite TV or Netflix shows. We follow this pattern day in and day out getting by with less than 6 hours of sleep per night, medicating with caffeine just to make it through the day and repeating the routine all over again. It is a wonder that many wellness programs are quick to address every aspect of our wellbeing from the physical to the spiritual, yet scarcely mention the necessity of good and adequate sleep. In many cases, these wellness plans fall short to emphasize the simple fact that good sleep and adequate rest could be one of the most important things we do for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Many of us think of sleep as a mere commodity, taking pride in linking our successes to less hours of sleep and more hours staying up to work on special projects. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in hard work but not to the expense of restful sleep and here is why,
What happens in the brain when we sleep?
The national sleep foundation in the article, “While you call it quits for the day, your mind does some serious work.”, gives the following important facts which occur in the brain while we sleep:
The brain takes the trash out
According the article, a cerebral spinal fluid is whisked throughout the brain. This phenomenon acts as a vacuum cleaner, getting rid of toxic elements in the brain that could lead to dementia over time
New information is locked in and memories are securely stored
While we sleep the brain reorganizes all the important new information we learned that day, ‘consolidating’ it and preparing us for optimal learning the next day. In addition, the brain reorganizes memories, reprioritizing them from most important to least important to us.
The brain keeps a straight chronology of events
During deep sleep, the brain busy itself keeping a straight chronology of events, it replays the list of events and keep them in a straight order as they occurred during the day.
During sleep the brain keeps us from acting our dreams out
According to the National sleep foundation, “In the deepest stage of sleep, stage 4, the part of your brain that's responsible for relaying nerve impulses throughout the spinal cord sends a message to turn off motor neurons, causing temporary paralysis. Why? So, you don’t find yourself trying to recreate the stories that are running through your mind when you're asleep.” (https://www.sleep.org/articles/brain-during-sleep/)
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
The many health benefits of good sleep
John Steinbeck once said, “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
The US Department of Health, office of disease prevention and Health promotion lists the following benefits to getting adequate sleep, 7 to 8 hours for most adults:
-Get sick less often
-Stay at a healthy weight
-Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
-Reduce stress and improve your mood
-Think more clearly and do better in school and at work
-Get along better with people
-Make good decisions and avoid injuries – for example, sleepy drivers cause thousands of car accidents every year
So, the next time you think about pulling an all-nighter to get work done, think about how much more you can do if you allow your brain to get the sleep it needs to ensure optimal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Sleep and the Brain: What Happens: While you call it quits for the day, your mind does some serious work. Retrieved from https://www.sleep.org/articles/brain-during-sleep/
The Basics: Health Benefits: Why is getting enough sleep is important. Retrieved from https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/category/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationship/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2