Have you been feeling tired or fatigued? Are you having trouble falling asleep at night? Have you been struggling to stick with a consistent sleep schedule? My goal is to provide you with a better understanding of the power of sleep and to offer you some practical advice to implement healthy sleeping habits.
Why we sleep
Simply put, sleep is your body's natural way of healing and restoring itself. While we are asleep, our bodies release hormones that initiate cell regeneration. Most of this process occurs during the REM sleep stage, when your body releases growth hormones to repair itself.
Sleep is also important for brain function. Your brain can only handle so much stimulus during the day before you begin to feel fatigued. Research has found that the brain's synapses shrink back by nearly 20% while you are asleep. It is during this time that your brain rests and prepares for the next day.
Your body's recovery process
Sleep is a vital part of the body's recovery process. Whether you are dealing with a painful injury, soreness, or have just completed a difficult workout, your body needs sleep to heal itself. It is constantly replacing old and damaged cells as it repairs muscles and tissue.
A significant part of your body's detoxification process occurs while you are asleep, along with the release of anti-inflammatory hormones.
Common sleep problems
Experts traditionally recommend 8 hours of sleep per night for adults, but this can be difficult to achieve because of busy schedules and disruptions. Maybe you are making an effort to sleep for the right amount of time, but you are struggling to fall asleep, or cannot sleep consistently through the night. Solutions to these problems are often simpler than they seem.
A little goes a long way
If you are struggling to find time for sleep, try getting to bed just a few minutes earlier whenever possible. Any extra time sleeping is extra time for your brain and body to recover and will do more than you think to speed up your recovery process.
Tips for better sleep
A little bit of extra sleep will go a long way, but there are many other things you can do before bed to achieve better sleep.
Stop all electronic screens 1-2 hours before bed to help calm the brain down.
Do something relaxing. Taking a hot bath or reading a book before bed can relieve stress and relax your body.
Exercise daily to burn off stress hormones like cortisol and DHEA.
Develop a consistent sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at a similar time each day to train your biological clock.
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Sleep releases good hormones in the body and plays a very big part in the recovery process.
Sleep is necessary for both your brain and body to function.
Turn off the electronics and do something relaxing before you go to bed to help calm down your brain.
A prolonged lack of sleep can lead to chronic and acute health conditions. Caring for your body is an important task, and sleep is a great place to start.