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Jane’s Blog The Importance of Sleep

Posted by Jane Jansen on

Sleep is essential for overall health and repair of the body including development, energy conservation, brain waste clearance, modulation of immune responses, cognition, performance, vigilance, disease, mood, and mental health.

Sleep is important to several brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. The brain and body stay remarkably active during sleep. Many studies suggest that it plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.

Research has shown that regions of the brain that are highly active during intensive learning tend to show more activity during subsequent sleep. In 2017 a study from the University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences, showed sleep deprivation disrupts our brain cells' ability to communicate with each other, leading to temporary mental lapses that affect memory and visual perception.

Dr. Maksim Bazhenov, PhD, professor of medicine at University of California San Diego states, "The brain is very busy when we sleep, repeating what we have learned during the day. Sleep helps reorganize memories and presents them in the most efficient way. Our findings, published in the August 4, 2020 online issue of eLife suggest that memories are dynamic, not static. In other words, memories, even old memories, are not final. Sleep constantly updates them. We predict that during the sleep cycle, both old and new memories are spontaneously replayed, which prevents forgetting and increases recall performance."

The importance of sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease is crucial. UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker says, “We have found that the sleep you're having right now is almost like a crystal ball telling you when and how fast Alzheimer's pathology will develop in your brain. Sleep cleanses the brain of beta-amyloid deposits. The silver lining here is that there's something we can do about it. The brain washes itself during deep sleep, and so there may be the chance to turn back the clock by getting more sleep earlier in life. If deep, restorative sleep can slow down this disease, we should be making it a major priority."

A study published in the November 2020 American Heart Association's journal Circulation found adults with the healthiest sleep patterns (morning risers, sleeping 7-8 hours a day and no frequent insomnia, snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness) experienced a 42% reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to those with unhealthy sleep patterns.

So, what can you do to improve sleep.

Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends as much as possible. For people with day jobs, long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.

Don't go to bed hungry or stuffed. Avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up. Don’t drink a lot of fluid after dinner or your bladder will be waking you up frequently. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature.

Blue Light Matters!

Turn off TVs, computers, smart phones and other blue-light sources an hour before you go to bed. Cover any displays you can't shut off. Blue light stimulates parts of the brain that makes us feel alert elevating our body temperature and heart rate. Blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy. Chronic exposure to blue light in the evening can trick our brain into thinking it’s still daytime, disrupting circadian rhythms and leaving us feeling alert instead of tired.

Regular daily exercise can promote better sleep, just don’t exercise too late. Instead do relaxation mediation, yoga and calming breathing techniques as you get closer to bedtime.

Get a Rocking Chair!

Two studies reported in the January 24 2019 journal Current Biology, found that a gentle rocking motion makes getting to sleep easier. The data showed that participants fell asleep faster while rocking. Once asleep, they also spent more time in non-rapid eye movement sleep, slept more deeply, and woke up less. The studies showed that rocking reduced the time it took to fall asleep, increased sleep time and boosts memory consolidation during sleep.

Supplements that can help:

Melatonin is probably the most well know sleep supplement. Melatonin, often referred to as the sleep hormone, is a central part of the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Its production increases with evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep and helping to orient our circadian rhythm.

5-HTP is naturally-occurring amino acid, 5-HTP supports the body’s production of serotonin — an important chemical messenger that transmits signals between your nerve cells. It also increases melatonin production.

Theanine is an amino acid that relaxes the mind without causing drowsiness. It calms worrying or excessive thoughts so you can achieve a deeper sleep.

Valerian and Hops are herbs that have a more sedating affect for sleep.

CBD Oil. Research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle. Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. By reducing certain symptoms, it’s also possible that sleep may improve.

There are many formulas available that combine many of these sleep products :

Happy Sleeper ( capsules) (Natural Balance), Sleep Optimizer (capsules) (Jarrow Formulas), Nerve Sleep Formula (liquid) (Woodstock Herbals)

Taking care of your sleep is crucial to taking care of your health!

To Order Supplements in this article call: The Tree of Life Wellness Center 508-336-4242

Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner

Host Holistic Healthline Radio



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