Unlocking the Power of Sleep: Top 10 Health Benefits of Restful Rejuvenation
Written by: Melissa Deally

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, sleep often does take a backseat to our demanding schedules. We’re just trying to get that one more thing done, and then we fall into bed exhausted, hoping that we will fall asleep. Yet sometimes sleep eludes us because good sleep isn’t about sleeping on demand. It’s about preparing our brain for sleep. The significance of quality sleep extends far beyond merely feeling rested.

Let’s delve into the top 10 health benefits of embracing restful rejuvenation for your overall well-being.

Enhanced Cognitive Function

Quality sleep is the ultimate brain booster. It enhances cognitive functions like memory consolidation, problem-solving skills, and creativity. A well-rested mind is better equipped to tackle challenges and make sound decisions.

Improved Mood Regulation

A good night’s sleep contributes to emotional resilience. It helps regulate mood and emotional responses, reducing the likelihood of irritability, stress, and anxiety. Prioritizing sleep sets the stage for a more positive and balanced outlook on life with more resilience towards the everyday stresses that invariably come our way.

If you’re tired, and somebody says something that annoys you, you’re much more likely to react and be angry and yell, whereas if you’re well rested, your reaction is going to be different.

Optimal Physical Performance

Whether you’re an athlete or just enjoy staying active, sleep plays a vital role in physical performance. It aids muscle recovery, supports coordination, thereby reducing the risk of injury, and contributes to overall endurance. Achieving peak physical performance starts with a solid foundation of rest.
What’s interesting is right now in the world of professional sports, all the teams are looking into science and researching how can we do better? How can we get every player to perform at an even higher level than they already are? The result is that they are researching ways to have all their players enjoy more restorative sleep. The same thing applies for you as well.

Strengthened Immune System

Sleep is a cornerstone of a healthy gut and robust immune system, as 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut. During deep sleep, the body produces cytokines, proteins crucial for immune defense. Adequate rest fortifies your ability to ward off illnesses and recover more efficiently. Inadequate sleep will result in killing off our killer cells, which are charged with fighting the cancer cells we all have in our body. I know I want as many killer cells as possible actively working in my body!

Weight Management

Quality sleep is a key player in weight management. It influences hunger hormones, reducing cravings for unhealthy foods. Additionally, well-rested individuals are more likely to engage in physical activities, contributing to a healthy weight.

Cardiovascular Health

Prioritizing sleep is a heart-smart choice. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues. A restful night supports healthy blood pressure, lowers stress levels, and promotes overall heart health. In fact, there is a study that was reported in the American College of Cardiology that there is a 25% rise in heart attacks the Monday after we go on daylight savings time, and a 21% drop on the Tuesday after we go off daylight savings! Each and every year we are seeing the impact of sleep on our heart health.

Hormonal Balance

Sleep is intricately connected to hormonal balance. It influences the production of hormones such as cortisol, which regulates stress, melatonin, which helps us get into a deep restorative sleep and is the inverse hormone to cortisol, meaning if cortisol is high, melatonin will be low, and then we’ll have a harder time getting a deep restorative sleep. Our growth hormone is also essential for tissue repair and muscle growth. adequate sleep fosters a harmonious hormonal environment. Adequate sleep also helps with glucose metabolism.

Glucose Metabolism

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health. Quality sleep enhances insulin sensitivity, aiding in effective glucose metabolism. This, in turn, lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and promotes better metabolic health. One of the biggest problems in our world today is poor metabolic health. And you can improve that simply by starting to prioritize and focus on your sleep.

Cellular Repair and Regeneration

Sleep is a period of cellular repair and regeneration. During deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones, facilitating the repair of tissues, muscles, and bones. This nightly restoration process is essential for overall longevity. I hear people tell me sleep is “over rated” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, if you are not getting good sleep, you are literally shortening your life.

Longevity

The cumulative impact of consistent, quality sleep contributes to longevity. A well-rested body and mind are better equipped to handle the challenges of aging, promoting a healthier and longer life.

Now that you have all these powerful reasons to start prioritizing your sleep instead of taking it for granted and falling into bed exhausted, expecting to sleep on demand, what can you do?

Here are some steps to improve your sleep. They are by no means all the options available for you.

If you are someone that struggles with sleep, please reach out because it is an area in which I do like to specialize and help people get sleep because it is so critical in our health journey. Every single client I work with gains a new focus on and appreciation of sleep.

Steps To Improve Your Sleep
Create a Sleep Hygiene Routine

I encourage you to go listen to episode 5 of Don’t Wait for Your Wake Up Call, where I go into more details of setting up a sleep hygiene routine.
We have to let our brain know when to start producing melatonin, and it’s this sleep bedtime routine, the habit that we create that does trigger our brain to be aware and notice, “oh, she’s doing this, and then this and then this, and then this, I know this routine, that means she’s getting ready for bed, I’m going to start producing melatonin.”

Now back in our hunter gatherer days, the brain would have known to start producing melatonin when it was dusk. However now in the modern age we have electricity, we’ve got the lights on in our house, the brain doesn’t know when it’s time to start producing melatonin. We have to teach the brain by creating a bedtime routine, and that bedtime routine should take you anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

You want to do the same four to six activities in the same order every night for 30 days.

We all do this with our kids, right? We’ll have them eat dinner, and then get in the bath, and then put on their jammies and brush their teeth and get into bed and have story time. We do it in the same order every night, so the kids know what’s going on. I used to think when I did this for my own kids, that the purpose of the routine was so the kids would just know the next steps! However, since getting into health and wellness, I realized it wasn’t the only purpose, the other purpose was helping their little brains know to start producing melatonin so they could have a better night’s sleep.

Therefore, we adults must do this as well. And each person’s hygiene routine is going to be different to the next. It’s whatever works for you. You know, for some people that could be washing the dishes, take the dog out for a walk, have a shower, get into bed, and read. For someone else it might be to have a sauna, do some yoga, stretching, have a shower, and then get into bed and journal.

It’s whatever works for you that you will do in the same order every night for a minimum of 30 nights so that your brain knows that when you start doing the first thing in your routine, that’s when it’s going to start producing the melatonin because it knows what’s coming.

The other thing that you want to factor in is timing of when you stop eating, drinking and looking at screens before bed: 3 hours before bed stop eating.

For example, if you go to bed at 10pm, you don’t eat anything after 7pm.2 hours before bed, you want to stop all drinks.1 hour before bed, you want to completely get off your screens, even if you were using blue light blocking glasses.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Now let’s just talk about screens because screens emit blue light. I recommend you to checkout my podcast episode 156 with Roudy Nassif, where we talk about blue light blocking glasses for a deeper dive on that topic. That episode will come out on February 17, 2024
The reason that we need to be aware of blue light, and also using blue light blocking glasses, is the fact that blue light from our screens or devices or TVs, etc, is the light that is emitted by the sun at high noon.

The blue light tells the brain that It’s high noon, which means it’s time to be active and outside doing things right.

It’s not telling the brain that it’s time to start getting ready for bed, so the brain doesn’t know it’s time to start producing melatonin. What’s also important to know is that for every hour that we are on screens getting blue light into our eyes, we are then blocking the brain’s ability to produce melatonin for another 30 minutes. For example, if you’re on screens for three hours in the evening, your brain can’t start producing melatonin for another 90 minutes after that.

When you wear blue light blocking glasses and good quality blue light blocking glasses that are blocking all the blue light, then your brain isn’t impacted, and it can be producing the melatonin as per the bedtime hygiene routine that you have created. I invite you to come back and check out that episode with Roudy Nassif.

Find What Works for You

You’ll also want to find what works for you when it comes to calming the body and getting to sleep. I invite you to listen to my podcast episode 157 with Jennifer Hasenyager, coming out on February 10, 2024 We all hear about meditation and while it’s great for many people you might be somebody who feels like that’s not working for you.

Don’t beat yourself up, find something that does work for you. We are all individuals. We are much better off finding what works for us, and that allows our brain to calm down and help us to get into a little bit of restorative time, than for us to force something that doesn’t work. If we keep trying to do something that doesn’t work then we get stressed out about the fact that it doesn’t work, and that isn’t helping you at.

Track Your Sleep

The other thing that you want to consider is tracking your sleep, especially as you’re starting a new bedtime hygiene routine, and starting to focus on your sleep because of course, what we track we focus on.
I’m wearing an aura ring here; I love my aura ring. It is my favorite device for tracking sleep. It shows me how much deep sleep I get, how much REM sleep I get, my total sleep, my heart rate, my heart rate variability, it tracks my steps throughout the day, it does a lot of great tracking, so that I have information about how I’m doing.

In fact, sometimes I’ve woken up and looked at my stats, and it says, “you might be coming down with something”. I haven’t even noticed that yet. However, I see that and I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to take it easy today.” Then sure enough, the next day, I might feel like I have a sore throat coming on. The aura ring gives me a heads up, which is great, because then I can start taking countermeasures and increasing my vitamin C and my immune protocol, to minimize any sickness or cold that I might be getting. I find this to be very helpful, as it heads it off before it turns into anything.

Now, when you track your sleep, you might be wondering, well, what do I aim for?

First, all adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, if you’re feeling like you’re getting sick, it’s going to be closer to the nine range. Or if you’re just overworked and tired, exhausted, listen to your body, it will guide you. If you’re feeling great, you have good energy, maybe you only need seven hours of sleep per night. But ideally what we want to have within that time that we’re sleeping, is 120 minutes of REM sleep, which supports our mental health, and 90 minutes of deep sleep, which supports our physical health.