We may be what we eat, but we are also how we sleep! Sleep is one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is not given adequate attention. In a world that places value on waking functions, we try to fit in as many tasks as we can throughout the day. Modern society is set up in a way that encourages the notion that it’s okay to forgo sleep and push our bodies to the limit.
Quality Sleep is Essential
Many of us may even confuse rest with stimulating recreation or inebriation. Watching television and playing on our phones are often associated with relaxing. This does not equate to actual resting, as we’re fully connected to the external world during these activities.
Getting quality sleep is as essential to your health and well-being as diet and exercise, hence why we created LUNA Natural Sleep Aid. When you think about it, a good night’s sleep can heal almost any short term issue. Ever think more clearly and quickly after a good night’s sleep? Most of us do. That’s due to all the pruning and pathway-efficiency that takes place in your brain overnight.
Let’s Get Technical
Think of your brain like a computer. When you leave it running for too long, the hard drive slows down over time. When you have a ton of old documents saved there’s less room for newer, more important data. Ever notice how your computer runs a lot slower when there’s an over accumulation of data or it hasn’t been rebooted in a while? Think of sleeping as a way of defragmenting and rebooting your internal hard drive (the brain). We defragment the computer to organize data in a logical manner, which makes obtaining files quicker and more efficient. We reboot to clear RAM and unused applications. Essentially, this gives the hard drive a fresh start and helps it run quicker.
When you sleep, your brain naturally fragments, or “prunes” the old, weak, disorganized neural connections that have accumulated throughout the day. In the brain, these connections are called synapses. Think of synaptic pruning similarly to pruning a garden. You trim away the unimportant “stuff” that has accumulated over time. This leaves you with more room to grow; to take in and learn new information efficiently.
The Risks of Sleeplessness
Getting adequate rest helps to strengthen and maintain healthy memory, as well as vigilance, attention, perception and other normal cognitive functions. While you snooze, the body works to restore energy levels for the next morning. Research shows that sleeping less than your physiological needs (approximately 7-9 hours, depending on the individual) causes increased stress, irritability and low mood. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a crucial part of the sleep cycle, where we fall into a deep sleep and typically dream. Over time, REM deprivation may leave one feeling unrested, fatigued, sensitive to pain and cognitively “dull”.
Regularly short sleep cycles have been associated with an increased risk for obesity and metabolic disruption. Research has linked poor sleep with impaired hormone functioning such as insulin resistance, increased ghrelin, decreased leptin and impaired glucose tolerance (1). These hormones are related to appetite and brain activity in response to food. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to excess weight gain over time due to the increased need to not only eat, but consume carbohydrates and fat (2). If your energy levels haven’t been properly restored, it makes sense that the body seeks energy from high glycemic foods (sugars, carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, rice, etc.). Occasional consumption is okay, but your health may be compromised if high glycemic foods become a regular part of your diet. They typically lack nutrients and further cause your hormones to spiral into dysregulation.
It’s no wonder sleep is denigrated! Approximately 70 million people suffer from insomnia. Society today has grown dependent on high glycemic foods, stimulants and stimulating activities. The pattern of waking during the day when it is light and sleeping at night when it is dark is a natural part of human life. The exposure to light or darkness also plays a major role in how sleep is regulated. The majority of us are glued to our phones, televisions and computers and make them part of our bed time rituals. The blue light affects our body’s natural ability to produce melatonin- a hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles.
Suffer from sleep deprivation or feeling the effects of irregular sleep?
Sleep yourself well with these bedtime tips:
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- Put away/turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime
- Stick to a regular bedtime and wake time every day
- Stop drinking caffeine by the early afternoon and avoid large late-night meals
- Avoid heavy carbohydrates and alcohol in the evening
- Drink decaffeinated tea, such as chamomile, when bedtime approaches
- Skip an afternoon nap, as it can make it harder to sleep at bedtime
- Replace late night TV with stretching or creating a to-do list for the next day
- Meditate or practice deep breathing 15 minutes before bed
Reach for LUNA Natural Sleep Aid
LUNA lulls your body and mind into a quiet, relaxed state. It eases racing thoughts and tension from the day, so that you’ll be able to drift into sleep easily. LUNA’s gentle blend of natural herbs helps promote restful, uninterrupted sleep without the groggy, sluggish wake up that you get from prescription medications.
1.) S Taheri. The link between short sleep duration and obesity Arch Dis Child 2006;91:881-884 doi:10.1136/adc.2005.093013 Taheri S, et al. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004 Dec;1(3):e62. Epub 2004 Dec
2.)Grandner, M. et al. Relationships among dietary nutrients and subjective sleep, objective sleep,and napping in women. Sleep Medicine 11 (2010) 180–184