Quality sleep allows us to awake feeling refreshed and full of energy, ready to power through the day. It also allows us to sleep less hours, freeing up more time for us to do the things we want.
A lot of people assume that because they're feeling tired all day or have a mid afternoon 'slump' that they need more sleep. Not true! A lot of people believe that because they may have had a couple of late nights, they have to 'catch up' by having extra sleep. Also not true! Sleeping for too long can damage your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your 24-hour 'clock' controlled by a central part of the brain. This clock tells us when we are sleepy by altering the body temperature by a few degrees. When the body temperature is lowered, we feel sleepy. Conversely when it is raised, we feel awake and alert.
When we sleep for a longer time, our body temperature does not rise as fast. This is why we feel sleepy and sluggish in the mornings. The more tired we feel, the less physical activity we do. Inactivity keeps the body temperature down so it creates a vicious cycle. The more sleep we have, the less time we stay awake to create our sleep quality for the following night.
Our body doesn’t get exposed to sufficient sunlight to lower our melatonin levels, so we stay sleepy throughout the day. The deeper stages of sleep (stages 3 and 4) are the most restorative. This is where the body regenerates. Most of stage 3 and 4 sleep takes place in the first 4 hours of our sleep. The rest of the night is spent in REM (dreaming) sleep and the lighter stages. Stages 3 and 4 are also where the immune system repairs and strengthens itself. It is vital to get this type of quality sleep.
A good start is to make sure we get enough physical activity during the day - this gives us a three-fold benefit. It gets us out into the sunlight, which reduces our melatonin levels, it raises our body temperature so we feel energized, and it tires us in a healthy way so we can have more deep sleep at night.
So when you come home from work feeling worn out and weary, don’t just sit on the couch - get physically active!
- Ed Schaeffer's Healthy Horizons Newsletter
Strength for Life Personal Training Service
Time for a nap ~