The miracle that is a good night’s sleep

Welcome to my Lab! A few weeks ago, I already mentioned that quality sleep has a super important role in our quest of #forgingtheshield. But let’s have a slightly deeper look into the miracles that occur during a good night’s sleep, and also identify the most important factors which might impair sleep.

So what happens to your body during a good night of sleep? First of all, the brain’s housekeeping gets started, and the brain literally looks at all the new information it absorbed during the day and tries to reorganize (defragment) it. Additionally, the brain gets rid of all toxins through the glymphatic system. So after a good night of Z’s, you have enough storage capacity for the things to come, and the system is easily ready to handle the challenges of a new day.
In addition, sleep is also the time when your body is in an anabolic state, which means your hormones (think growth hormone and testosterone) rise, allowing the body to rebuild and adapt to all kinds of things you did the day before, in terms of physical exercise. To make a long story short, without a good amount of sleep your body and your brain are weakened, and if this occurs on a regular basis, you are prone to disease, which results in a malfunctioning shield a.k.a bad immune defense.

So good sleep is super important, and whoever pretends he or she only needs a little sleep every night, will inevitably pay the bill for this later in life.

But what impacts sleep?

Obviously the biggest reason is stress, and here we already enter a vicious circle. When sleep-deprived, we are not as resilient to stress as intended by nature, and more stress than we can handle greatly affects sleep. Unfortunately, it is probably impossible to help you to resolve this based on a blog article, but at least I can give you a handful of ideas to reduce stress at night.
So while much of what happened during the day has been already moved into the equation, I strongly recommend keeping the following additional stressors away in the evening, and night. Avoid (heavy) meals 2-3 hours before going to bed. In case you have a drink or two, better have them in the early evening then later on. Shut down all electric devices like your smartphone, TV, and computer at least an hour before bed since all those handy devices contain a heavy mix of things that will impair your sleep. The bright blue light shining from the display, the non-natural electromagnetic fields they emit, and the potential stressful content, like that email you just received before hitting bed that will keep you up all night.

All things in life have their time, and keeping all this stimulation away for a least an hour before you lay down is a big one. In case you need more, building a nighttime ritual might bring additional value. Things that can play a role might be a hot soak for a few minutes, a warm, non-stimulating drink, some stretching, an easy yoga routine, or even cuddling can help you enormously in waking up the next morning feeling fresh, and literally like a newborn.

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