Sleep is so important because it is a highly effective time for your body to rest and recover, while allowing essential body functions to take place. Not getting enough sleep can drastically affect your mood and concentration during your waking hours.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you can incur a sleep debt, which becomes chronic sleep deprivation if prolonged. Some bad habits can wreak havoc on your sleep and should be eliminated as much as possible, like exercising too late at night, drinking caffeine and alcohol, and using electronics like your phone and the TV before sleeping. Allowing your body to naturally wind down can help improve the normal sleep/wake cycle and prevent more serious sleep disorders like insomnia to develop.
Two internal processes - homeostasis and circadian rhythms - control your sleep/wake cycles. Homeostasis records your need for sleep: it reminds you to sleep after a period of time and regulates the sleep intensity. It is especially prone to your exposure to light, which makes it difficult to go to sleep. Meanwhile, circadian rhythms are your body’s internal body-clock that synchronises with environmental cues like light and temperature, and controls your body’s basal temperature, hormones and metabolism.
We usually need about 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but quality of sleep also counts. There are 5 stages of sleep in the sleep cycle- stage 1-4 are non-REM sleep and stage 5 is REM sleep where dreaming happens.
In Stage 1, your body functions start to slow down, your muscles relax and your brain waves slow down as well.
In Stage 2, your body functions and brain waves slow down even more.
In Stage 3 and 4, your heart rate and breathing go down dramatically. Your brain waves slow down and muscles relax completely. It is difficult to wake someone at stages 3 and 4 of sleep.
In Stage 5, you enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, where your eyes move quickly in different directions and you start dreaming.
Being able to enter deep sleep (stages 3 to 5 of sleep) helps improve your energy levels during the day, boosts the immune system, regenerates cells, and supplies blood to muscles. A good night’s sleep typically includes 4 to 5 full sleep cycles. If you feel fatigued upon waking, it is possible that you are not sleeping deep enough and may want to look into ways to improve your sleep quality.
5 Reasons Why Sleep is Important
Sleep benefits cardiovascular health
Sleeping less than 6 hours a night increases your risk of dying from heart disease and developing a stroke. Waking up too often stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response, and may increase your blood pressure levels, leading to higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Sleep improves your skin health
Since sleep is a period for rest and recovery, it also affects your skin health. Less sleep reduces the production of collagen and blood flow, leaving your skin saggy, thinner and dull. During the first 3 hours of sleep, growth hormones are also released, which maintain healthy and young skin. In the middle 2 hours, melatonin is released, which acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and cell damage. During REM sleep, your levels of cortisol or stress hormones drop, allowing muscles to relax and your skin to go through deep recovery.
Sleep regulates brain function and improves concentration
While you sleep, your brain rests and processes information to help you learn and make memories. Deep REM sleep also helps to boost creativity during the day. On the other hand, having inadequate sleep also leads to poor attention span, concentration, strategic thinking, risk assessment and reaction times.
Sleep boosts your immune system
While you sleep, your body produces cytokines which targets infections and inflammation in the body. It also produces T-cells which are white blood cells that guard against infectious diseases. Sleep also allows your body to rest, which is one of the reasons why you feel like getting more rest when you’re unwell.
Sleep helps to regulate your weight
Not getting enough sleep tends to interfere with your body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates, which leads to higher levels of insulin and greater fat storage. It can also reduce the amount of growth hormones, which control the body’s proportion of fat and muscle. Inadequate sleep also raises your cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that is linked to fat gain.
Tips for Improving Your Sleep
After understanding why sleep is so important, setting up good habits before bedtime can coax your body into improved quality sleep for health. We recommend some easy and natural tips for better sleep:
- Aromatherapy can help you get into a relaxed mood for sleep. Using essential oils like lavender in a diffuser can instantly transform your mood and ease you into sleep.
- Sleep balms work similarly to aromatherapy. The scented sleep balms contain essential oils and plant oils that can be applied to your chest, temples and hands for a safe and calming experience for your skin and body. Sleep balms are also available for children to unwind from their night time activities.
- Drinking warm beverages before bedtime can also calm your mind and body. We enjoy making soothing herbal teas to appease your nerves and anxiety, and creating a little quiet, night time ritual before sleeping.
- Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice contain relatively high levels of melatonin which can help assist in sleep and jet lag. Drink 1 cup (200 ml) in the late afternoon / evening.
- Shutting off electronic items an hour or two before sleeping can also be very beneficial in helping your body adjust to regular circadian rhythms of your body clock, telling you that it’s time for bed.
- Doing regular exercise also helps your body exert energy, tiring you out for bedtime. After some vigorous exercise, the body naturally wants to recover and sleeping is one of the best ways to do so.
Sleep plays such an important role in maintaining your health while allowing your body to rest and recover. You don’t have to resort to taking sleep aids and medication to help you go to sleep. Instead put aside your phone, revel in the soothing scents coming from your diffuser, and try our sleep patch and balm, before you tumble off to the land of sleep.