Why We Sleep? And How to Improve

Why We sleep? And Benefits

Sleep is the new Coffee: Unlocking Its Power for Health, Well-being, and Survival

Sleep is not merely a passive state of rest; it’s an active and essential component of our health, well-being, and even survival. Drawing from Matthew Walker’s compelling book “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” this article dives into the profound importance of sleep and offers actionable insights to harness its power.

Mathew Walker book "why we sleep"
Strategy to wind down for sleep

You can find the Free PDF of the book here.

The Evolutionary Importance of Sleep– And why we should care

Every living organism, from the tiniest nematode worm to the majestic blue whale, exhibits some form of sleep or sleep-like behavior. Why has sleep been preserved so tenaciously through the evolutionary ladder? The answer lies in its multiple benefits.

General Sleep checklist and infographic

The REM and NREM States

Sleep isn’t uniform. It comprises multiple stages, the most prominent being REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). While NREM is crucial for consolidating memories – imagine it as a kind of “save” button for your day’s learnings – REM is where most of our dreaming occurs. This dreaming stage plays a pivotal role in emotional regulation and fostering creativity.

Take the classic movie Inception, for instance. The dream layers and the importance of REM sleep are central to its narrative. Just as the characters navigate through intricate dreamscapes, our brain traverses through various stages of sleep, each serving a unique purpose.

Good sleepers vs non Good Sleepers
NREM Vs REM

Health Implications

It’s alarming to note that chronic sleep deprivation is linked to a smorgasbord of health issues.

The Cognitive Cost of Lack of Sleep

A lack of sleep can severely impair cognitive functions. Reaction times slow down, decision-making abilities are hampered, and our overall mood can take a nosedive. Think of the last time you pulled an all-nighter. Did you feel “sharp” the next day? Probably not. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.

Physical Health improvements with sleep

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just impact the mind. It can wreak havoc on the body too. From obesity to cardiovascular diseases, the risks are numerous. For athletes, adequate sleep is non-negotiable. Consider LeBron James, who reportedly sleeps around 12 hours a day when training. His exceptional performance on the court isn’t just a testament to his training but also his commitment to recovery and sleep.

LeBron James schedule is around 12 hours sleep

Mental Well-being

The emotional processing that occurs during REM sleep is indispensable for our mental health. Consistently robbing oneself of sleep can lead to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and even depression.

SLEEP TIPS

Improving sleep isn’t rocket science. With a few tweaks to our lifestyle and habits, we can drastically enhance sleep quality.

Consistency is Key

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule – going to bed and waking up at the same time – even on weekends can set our internal clock right. Remember the movie Groundhog Day? The protagonist wakes up at the same time every day. While his situation was a tad extreme, there’s merit in the idea of consistency.

Create a Sleep-friendly Environment

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary dedicated to sleep. Dimming the lights, keeping the room cool, and removing electronic devices can signal the brain that it’s time to wind down.

NSDR & Yoga Nidra to improve sleep

Well after all we are a Yoga Nidra & NSDR channel/blog. 🙂 Give our YouTube channel a try. Have questions or want a dedicated session write to us. NSDR & Yoga Nidra can help you get in to deep relaxation.

NSDR helps trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, reduces cortisol levels, and promotes the release of endorphins—the body’s natural tranquility elixir. This practice is simple and effective and as you continue to follow your guide’s voice in the audio, one can feel a change only a few moments in. It’s best if this is done with no disturbance around you or you can wear your headphones before diving in. You can try a beginners audio here. To learn more about the science and details of Yoga Nidra you can read here.

White Noise Machines

These devices produce a consistent sound, like rainfall or static, which can mask disruptive noises from the environment. Think of it as providing a kind of audio blanket, shielding you from sudden, jarring sounds that might interrupt your slumber.

White Noise Machine

Weighted Blankets

Originally used for therapeutic purposes, weighted blankets have gained popularity for their ability to provide a sense of calm and security. They’ve been likened to receiving a gentle hug all night long.

Weighted Blankets great for better sleep

Beware of Alcohol and Caffeine: No caffeine before 3:00pm

While a glass of wine might help you fall asleep, alcohol can interfere with the REM stage, robbing you of its benefits. Similarly, caffeine can linger in the system for hours, hampering sleep. Ever noticed how the coffee-fueled protagonists in movies like The Social Network seem jittery and sleep-deprived? There’s a lesson there.

The half-life of caffeine can be anywhere from three to seven hours. So, if you drink 200 mg of caffeine at 3:00pm, you’d still have 100 mg in your system about five hours later around 8:00pm, and a quarter of it about 10 hours later. It can take up to 12 hours for caffeine to fully leave your system. Caffeine hampers your sleep cycle. No caffeine in your body can improve sleep by 25%.

Sleep vs caffeine infographic. Should be taken 6 hours before bedtime

Limit Screen Time Before Bed

The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Taking a cue from movies, remember the scenes where characters toss and turn after reading stressful emails late at night? Don’t be that character. Make it a rule to disconnect at least an hour before bed.

Natural Sleep Aids

Lavender Essential Oil

Studies have shown that the scent of lavender can reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. Consider using a diffuser in your bedroom or applying a dab of diluted lavender oil to your temples before sleep.

Mindfulness and Meditation Apps

Apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided meditation sessions designed specifically to prepare your mind and body for sleep. By focusing on your breathing and relaxing your body, you can drift into sleep more easily. These apps also offer Sleep Story and yoga nidras which are highly recommended

Sleep Sleep Sleep— Its important. Modern society has glamorized not sleeping. Its not good in the long term

Sleep, once considered just a dormant state, is now recognized for its monumental importance in every facet of our lives. The modern world, with its incessant demands, often pushes sleep to the backburner. However, recognizing its value and making conscious efforts to improve it can lead to enhanced health, productivity, and overall quality of life. Try NSDR to help you fall asleep better. After all, to quote the wise words of Ernest Hemingway, “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *