Most of us want to feel and perform at peak every day or at least we want to feel great and be able to go through all activities and accomplish our daily goals as best as possible but even when we want all this we do not prioritize sleep. I know some days is impossible to go to bed early and get 8 hours of quality sleep but, how many times have you stayed up late watching one more episode of Game of Thrones, a Harry Potter or Avengers movies?
I think that if we understand what happens when we sleep we will consider to give it the importance it deserves and even if we can´t get 8 hours every night we can make some changes to our lifestyle and adopt good habits that will improve the quality of our sleep and get at least 6 hours every night which will impact our life positively.
Sleep is crucial for our health and survival, specially because our brain never stops, there are so many processes going on in our brain and body while we sleep, every day our brain receives tones of information and we put our body through stress, while we sleep our body is recovering and our brain is storing information, it also takes us through movies that seem so real which are our dreams.
We´re going to keep it simple, sleep can divided in 2 phases which are deep sleep and REM, deep sleep focuses more on our body while REM focuses more on our brain.
REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
In this part of sleep the focus is on our brain and memory, when we are awake we´re taking a lot of information that is stored in the short term memory, during sleep all that information does into a selective test, if it´s important and useful that information gets stored in the long term memory where it can last a lifetime, this is where our memories are stored and we can share the stories for years to come, if the information is not relevant, important or useful it´s deleted. Most of the information we get during the day is deleted, this clean part prevents that our brain gets filled with unnecessary stuff.
Even when memory consolidation requires both deep sleep and REM studies show that if we have any sleep issue during this stage we tend to be more forgetful. Dreams are experienced most vividly during this stage and even when the reasons or purpose of dreams are not clear it may be to help us process information and emotions.
During this part of sleep all the healing and repair in the body occurs, here the body is working on recovering from the day, recover, healing and growing. Growth hormone is released during this phase but all other hormones like leptin, ghrelin, insulin are also working, the same with the systems of our body like digestive, immune they´re all working together to recover and build muscle, skin, hair.
During deep sleep our physical body is recovering, healing and growing, the body is actually healing itself from wounds, repairing muscle, replacing cells this is why it´s so important.
It´s clear that we need enough good quality sleep and we need to go through both phases repeatedly every night, lack of sleep impacts all the process going on while we sleep that is why it´s harder to stay focused on what we´re doing, we tend to be more forgetful and we are more susceptible to get sick.
Optimal health physically and mentally requires good quality sleep, this compliments the other 4 principles of fitness so developing good habits for each of them leads to a better life, it´s not about being perfect in one of them, it´s about improving in all of them. If you can´t get 8 hours of sleep every day try getting 6 hours and focus on making those 6 hours the best and use tools to reduce stress which will help you improve the quality of sleep, eat real, fresh foods, workout every day and stay as far as possible from negative people, be more positive all day.
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