Did you know that sleep has a profound effect on every aspect of your being?
What I knew about sleep was confirmed and backed by science in this TED talk by Matt Walker: Why sleep matters more than ever.
However if you begin to feel anxious about this. Stop. Breath. And come back to it later.
Here is my takeaway from Matt Walker's talk.
Immune health and sleep
"Sleep sharpens every tool in that box. Sleep essentially restocks weaponry in your immune arsenal giving you the greatest chance to fight off infection." said Matt Walker.
A quick search gives you a number of studies that talks about this.
Example in the talk was about getting enough sleep 1 week prior to getting a vaccine. When you don't get enough sleep (7 hours or less) 50% less antibodies are produces compared to when someone has slept enough (8 hours or more). Rendering the vaccine 50% less effective.
How can sleep be helpful now (in theory we have more time to sleep...)
1) Sleep provides benefit to every major organ system in the body. Many of the operations of the mind including learning memory and creativity.
a. Sleep is important before the learning process begins, to prepare the brain.
b. Sleep is needed after learning to imprint what is learned.
c. Sleep is helps with the file transfer mechanism. From short term vulnerable reservoir to more permanent long term storage site within the brain.
2) Sleep integrates and associates new memories with existing stores of information.
a. You wake up with a revised mind-wide web of association.
b. It leads to remarkable state of creativity.
"Never told to stay awake on a problem but instead told to sleep on a problem"
3) Sleep can also change our emotional and mood state.
"Sleep almost acts like a nocturnal soothing balm. Just sort of taking the sharp edges off our emotional experiences so that we come back the next day we don't feel as challenged or triggered by those events anymore." said Matt Walker in the talk.
This is something the research community is beginning to learn as another function of sleep for the mind.
Sleep for battle against weight gain
I would think sure it would make a difference since early in the talk it was already mentioned sleep affects many of the operations of the mind.
Again if you begin to feel uneasy around this topic, stop. Breath. And return to it later.
We can start to gain weight if we are not sleeping well.
It also changes are preferences of food groups.
Lack of sleep changes how brain operates in response to food.
How to get a great night sleep?
Follow the typical sleep hygiene factors such as:
1) Control light in the evening - avoid screen time, dim your room lights
2) Make your room a cooler place
3) Be mindful of caffeine
Tips for when you've had a bad night sleep
1) Do not sleep in the next day, wake up at your normal time - "Your body has a 24 hour clock and it expects regularity and it thrives best on regularity..."
2) Don't go to bed earlier than usual
3) Resist the urge to nap during the day - It's like snacking before a meal
What to do if you are struggling with sleep
1) When you are in bed and not able to fall asleep for 20-30 minutes, take a break - "You would never sit at the dinner table waiting to get hungry so why would you lie in bed waiting to get sleepy"
2) Have a wind down routine - sleep is not a light switch that goes from 1 to 0
Meditation, hot bath are known to help
3) Remove all clock faces from your bed room
Stress and Sleep cycle
Stress will elevate the hormone Cortisol in the body which is supposed to gradually decrease to a minimum just as we fall asleep. And the body will tend to move towards the flight or fight mode instead of the more calming rest and digest mode. In order for us to stay asleep the flight or fight mode has to decrease. Hot bath and meditation has proven to be useful in shifting you over to more quieter side of the nervous system.
Technology and Sleep
"Use of screen and devices are not advisable"
- Blue light will have a halting effect on release of Melatonin, which signals your body that it is time to sleep.
- Devises trigger a physiological activation which causes 'sleep procrastination'.
- In the morning, the first thing you do is check your device which causes a flood of anxiety and trains your brain to expect anxiety every single morning.
"Try not to check your phone for the first 5 minutes of the day" says Matt Walker.
1) Melatonin is not a sleep inducing chemical, rather a sleep timing hormone.
2) Alcohol is the enemy of sleep because...
- It numbs the cortex, it sedates you which is not sleep
- Typically you wake up more times throughout the night, causing sleep fragmentation. Quality of your sleep is not the same
- It's good at blocking your REM (dream sleep) sleep, which is important for your mental health and emotional stability.
"It's actually going to harm your sleep"
3) Sleeping Pills prescribed now are typically called sedative hypnotic that kind of act on the same receptors as alcohol.
Exercise and Sleep
Physical activity during the day seem to improve sleep at night. Beyond the 20 to 30 minutes mark is good enough to impact your night sleep.
When you start to sleep well, motivation to go out and exercise also seem to increase.
How much sleep is a good amount
"Currently the recommendation for people to get somewhere between 7 to 9 hours sleep and there certainly is a range, it is not necessarily a one size fits all..."
TED host Chris Anderson reiterated:
Don't forget the simplest therapy of all - that is to sleep
"If you are gong to make this time about learning and focusing on yourself, don't forget to make sleep a key part of that program."
"Your immune system is coopting and bringing into the equation (sleep) to help fight that infection because sleep is so powerful in that regard." - Matt Walker
Need I say more?
Let me know how I can help. Reiki allows you to fall into a meditative state without really making an effort. It knows when you need to be energized and when you need to calm down and adjust accordingly.