Every night you voluntarily allow your body to shut down. You lie down, close your eyes, and slow your breathing. It’s paradoxical that we as humans will fly across the room to plug in our phones in order to prevent it from shutting down, yet one of the biggest facets of human life is the concept of shutting down. Sleep is a wonderful thing, it is a time in which our thoughts become dreams, and our bodies remain a vessel. See the other great benefits sleep can provide to your brain and body…
As much as anyone loves sleep, doesn’t everybody hate that fifteen minute period when lying in bed trying to go to sleep?
There are many factors in our everyday life that can affect the way we sleep, and by lessening their influence an hour before bedtime we can avoid the trouble of falling asleep.
Light is one of biggest the factors that give us the most trouble when falling asleep.
There are two ways in which light can affect our sleep. One way is when we are falling asleep and there is a light staring into our eyes. This is a very direct way because we can simply shut off the light and find our way to bed. Another way in which light affects our sleep is when we are already sleeping. If a light were to emerge from your phone, or from the corner of your window and make its way to your eye it can mess with your internal clock. A beaming light in your eye will convince your body that it is daytime and that you must wake up right away. Exposure to light while sleeping throws your internal clock into a jambalaya and wreaks havoc on your sleep patterns, so if your sleep is in your best interests you may want to sleep with your phone far away and all your windows shut!
Jet lag and shift work also play large roles in the way we sleep.
This is because we mess with our internal clocks. There is something called the circadian rhythm which is a very important timeline for the body to perform certain jobs – e.g. detoxing, digesting, laying memories and so much more.
If you work a night shift or have jet lag then you may suffer from excessive sleepiness, but also research has found it can slow you down mentally by affecting your memory and reaction speed. Even things like diabetes and heart disease have been linked to this now…
Now comes the big one: Stress. Stress can affect your sleep big time.
Your body is programmed to react to a stressful situation by waking up / being ready for action. This makes deep sleep very hard to achieve if you have a high level of stress. Someone with high stress levels, or depression, experiences more REM sleep rather than deep sleep and that doesn’t allow the body to truly rest. If this is the case for you, maybe take a spa day and go get a massage, or meditate to get rid of that unneeded stress. Another stressor is not just our environment but also what we feed ourselves – specifically caffeine. Do you like to sip on some black tea or soda before you go to sleep? Well if you enjoy sleeping you should stop because the caffeine levels in soda and tea are high and caffeine stimulates your nervous system making your body more responsive and less relaxed.
Now how does sleep help with detox and what is sleep actually good for?
When you sleep your brain has an extremely unique way of removing waste through the Glymphatic system. During sleep your brain releases toxins which include harmful proteins that have been linked to brain disorders as well as Alzheimer’s. An even crazier concept is that during this time your brain cells shrink by sixty percent so it is easier to seek out the harmful toxins. The Glymphatic system is just like the Lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing toxins in the body, but the brain is a closed organ so it has to have its own way of removing waste. The ‘G’ in Glymphatic stands for Glial cells.
Ugh so much big science talk, just bear with me, please. These cells manage the system.
Glial cells flush the waste from the brain to the circulatory system where it is eventually circulated to the liver where it is eliminated. Basically now you know how your brain detoxes itself! Your brain actually performs its own colonic!
It is actually found that your Glymphatic system is ten times more active at night than it is during the day. Therefore, without even being aware that you are detoxing, your brain is doing it for you! Now when you dream about the Vegan summer rolls and vegan lasagna that Susana makes here at Santosa, wake up thinking about all the detoxing your brain just did for you! Your brain just does it at night to keep it classy. Always stay classy and Beautiful.
There are five stages of sleep, and each is pretty interesting.
The first stage of sleep is our lightest in which we can be woken up, and most likely a person being woken up then will wake up by saying, “I wasn’t sleeping.” He/she was sleeping, but only in stage one sleep. An interesting thing about stage one is that this is when you experience the sensation of falling. Not in deep sleep, but in the lightest of sleep! Stage Two is a slightly deeper sleep in which eye movement ceases and brain waves become slower with occasional rapid bursts. In stage three sleeps your brain waves become extremely slow and have adopted the name delta waves and are interspersed with some fast waves. In stage four sleep the delta waves are not interspersed with faster waves, and your brain solely produces delta waves. If you’re an occasional bed wetter, it’s ok. Sleep walking, bedwetting, and night terrors all occur during stage three and four of sleep which is considered deep sleep. When you’re in deep sleep you’re a hard person to wake up, your eyes are still, and you have no muscle activity (Besides your cardiac muscles which regulate your blood, and create heartbeats).
The final stage of sleep is the REM period.
During this time your breathing intensifies, your eyes begin to jerk, and your limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed. During REM sleep your brain waves increase to a level as if you are awake. Blood pressure rises at this point as well as your heartbeat. This all sounds scary, but don’t worry: it’s normal.
The normal human being experiences three to five intervals of REM sleep a night. The reason these scary things happen during REM sleep is because this is the same time you dream. These are the dreams that you can actually remember.
It all sounds pretty hectic but it’s all completely healthy, and is important for maintaining homeostasis (balance in the body), and high energy levels! Sleep better, detox better!