Getting proper sleep is necessary for good health.
It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep can be extremely refreshing, but many people do not get enough sleep to support optimal health. More and more science tells us that regularly getting proper amounts of deep sleep is critical for performance and long term health for everyone.
What Happens When You Sleep and Why Is Sleep Important?
Regularly getting good sleep is important for more than just feeling good in the morning. Importantly, our bodies’ restorative processes take place when we sleep.
It is no secret that not getting good sleep can affect your brain’s performance, but did you know that sleep is the time that you processes and solidify information learned the previous day? Without good sleep––and the processes the brain goes through during that time––you are less likely to remember information from the previous day and will have a harder time recalling that information. (So much for all those all-night cram sessions in high school and college!) Lack of sleep is also associated with a spike in health risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Sleep patterns are divided into two cycles (NREM and REM) that repeat approximately every 90 minutes. During the phases of NREM, your blood pressure drops, breathing slows, and muscles become relaxed. Blood supply increases to your muscles and tissues are restored. Certain hormones like growth hormone are released as well. REM sleep occurs following NREM sleep; during this period, dreams occur and energy is supplied to the brain and body. REM sleep is critical for daytime performance.
Ultimately, sleep is critical for a number of biological processes––if you do not get enough sleep regularly, theses processes are not optimally carried out.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Needs for sleep vary, but most people likely need more than they think they do. Generally, the thought is that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to function optimally. Children require more. Largely, it is a myth that most people can run optimally on 6 hours of sleep. Remember, there is a difference between getting by and optimally functioning.
What If You Can’t Sleep?
Sleeplessness affects millions of Americans, but instead of turning to prescription drugs (as many do), there are some things you should try first.
First and foremost, you should plan on getting a good night’s sleep. We all have the same number of hours during the day; if you are serious about maintaining good health, make it a point to get at least 7 to 9 hours a night. Here are some tips that might assist you in getting quality sleep that promotes good health.
- Turn off the TV, your laptop or electronic devices an hour before bed. Blue light affects melatonin production in the brain and can inhibit getting to sleep.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room. Try keeping the room cool at night.
- Limit caffeine intake during the day, and cease all caffeine intake after 2PM. Those on the Kaufmann One Diet will be avoiding caffeine anyway.
- Alcohol and nicotine affect sleep negatively, even in “moderate” amounts. Those on the Kaufmann Diet are avoiding these things too.
- If you have trouble getting to sleep, try incorporating a sensible exercise regimen into your routine. This is known to help facilitate better sleep habits.
- If you are still having trouble getting to sleep, natural supplements such melatonin, tryptophan (with pyridoxine), valerian root tea, or certain magnesium supplements may be helpful towards this end.