Whether you like it or not, in order to reach your goals, to live the life you deserve and imagine for yourself; things need to be changed in your current way of being. Because, let’s face it, the same level of thinking that created your current life and your so called “problems”, will not create your new life nor solutions to those problems. The first thing that requires the change, so transformation and growth can be reached, is your brain, more precisely, the way it has been wired. And it needs a lot of healthy support from you.
No matter what kind of transformation you are trying to make ( like a physical one where you are trying to gain or lose weight), it is very important to make sure that the transformation is being boosted by the right and necessary nutrients, and other tools that are sustainable and helping to reach your goal faster. And thankfully, one of these tools is one easy to do, is sleep itself.
The most important function of the brain is to run your body in the most efficient way. It is an organ that controls processes that are regulating the physical body. It coordinates thought, emotion, movement, sensation and behaviour. The brain contains supportive tissues and nerves. The nerves are creating a system that makes the brain connect to the rest of the body so communication can happen amongst the physical body and the brain. Each part of the brain is responsible for specific functions. Functions like movement, breathing, body temperature, learning, hearing, reasoning, problem solving, hunger, swallowing, motor skills, taste, eye movement, maintaining balance, maintaining posture, consciousness and the list can go on and on and on. These are “only” the basic, everyday things that the brain is responsible for to run perfectly and efficiently without you even realising them. And if we are adding to its long list of doings another thing, like trying to make it rewire itself in order to change; of course that it means more conscious fuelling needs to be done and the least we can do is to make sure that we are taking care of it in the best way possible, by our best knowledge.
Sleep is a basic, fundamental need of our body. Sleep is when our brain is cleaning itself, sleep is when we heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Sleep affects every organ and system in our body. Everything you do, you do it better with a good night sleep. It helps you to look younger, feel sexier, rejuvenate your mind and body, improves sex life, helps to lose weight, and amongst many other things, it also energises you. You are even smarter and more enlightened just by getting enough sleep at night. Just to show the importance of sleep: you can go 4 days without water; 6 days without sleep and 25 days without food.
But what exactly happens when you are not getting enough of it?
It is an interesting fact that by getting 90 minutes less sleep at night, it creates 30% less brain power the following day. 30%! Just imagine! Your brain will not function the way it should. And if it does not function the way it should, it means your whole physical body, the rewiring of your brain to achieve transformation, thinking clearly and eating healthy, just to mention a few things, will all be affected negatively. Your metabolism will slow down, for instance, because the body will think it is better to have some stored energy just to keep going whilst you are awake. Your whole system will function badly, you will have the unnecessary hunger feeling, that will cause you making poor food choices that will not nourish you in any shape or form. Your reaction time will slow down by 33%. You will not be able to perform whilst working out, testosterone level will drop dramatically, hormone cycles will get worse and you will feel pain more and with higher intensity. On top if it all, you just created yourself a bad day that affects your mood, your temper, your ways of seeing your growth, and so on and so on. And to mention few worse cases, you are more likely to become more anxious, stressed, and even depressed, as well if the sleep deprivation will not stop. And as you know, it is a never - ending negative spiral that might just keep going down and down, and that is all created by you by not sleeping enough the night(s) before. By the way, I hope you see how all is connected and how all affects each other! Fascinating, is not it? Oh, and one more thing that is also affected, is your decision-making process. When you are going through sleep deprivation, more wrong decision is made because you are less likely to care about the outcome of it.
Tips to sleep better
One way to improve the quality of sleep is with physical activity. Exercise increases time spent in deep sleep. It raises your body temperature and later the day, when it drops back to its normal level, it can trigger the feeling of drowsiness and that helps you to sleep. It can make you feel more tired and ready to go to bed at the end of the day. The optimal time, during the day to exercise, is the morning or afternoon. Try to avoid evening activities if it is possible. Reason being for that is because physical activities done in the morning and in the afternoon are allowing your body temperature to drop down to the optimal level for the good night sleep. An evening exercise will not give enough time for the body temperature to regulate, to drop itself after a good session. To be on the safe side, do not do any physical exercise 4 hours before your bedtime.
Another tool that aids better night sleep is to make sure to not drinking anything containing caffeine after noon. This is because caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours. Having a cup of coffee in the morning might be fine, if you feel the need of it, but having a third and a fourth later on during the day, when even the very first one has still its effect on your body, might not seem such a wise idea. You might think that this is not correct because you are still getting sleep at night, even if you have one cup of green tea or coffee at 5pm. Yes, you can still go to bed and falling asleep at night, but the quality of sleep will not be the same. You will wake up feeling tired that makes you reach for a cup of coffee in the morning. Again. Or you might have vivid, lucid dreams at night. Those will affect deeply your mood in the morning, after waking up.
Another thing, that is also greatly beneficial is a consistent sleep schedule. Having a routine in our everyday life makes it so much effective, and easier. We all know that. And that is why we should be doing the same with our sleep. What we should be aiming for, is to make sure to wake up and go to bed at the same time every single day. That way, after a short period of time, you will not even need an alarm clock to wake you up. You will do that naturally.
To improve your sleep, try to make sure that you are having the last meal of the day at least 2.5 - 3 hours before bedtime and make sure that you are consuming something that is not too heavy nor difficult to digest. When you are eating something just before going to bed, first, your body's main focus at night will be digesting the food that you have eaten for dinner and it will not focus on resting. All the energy will go to digestion and not to have a good night sleep and the needed rest. That is why it is suggested to aim to have dinner time 2.5 - 3 hours before sleep. Secondly, imagine, if you are eating something heavy for dinner and straight going to bed after, now wonder that you will not fall asleep easily. Your poor physical body will work all night just to digest that heavy and probably unhealthy food that you could have avoided or at least to have for some other time of the day.
Lastly, just an interesting fact to mention that affects your quality of sleep: one alcoholic beverage takes one hour for the human body to digest. So, calculate, how many glasses of wine or drink of your choice are you having before bedtime with your dinner? And how do you sleep at night? I am not saying to not enjoy them but try to make sure that no alcoholic drinks at least 3 hours before you go to bed.
Oh, and one more tip that popped into my head. Try not to consume too much carbs before going to bed. Eating food that are high in carbohydrates spikes your blood's sugar level in general. Having that for dinner, when sugar gives you energy and makes you awake, is not the best idea. You do not need those just before bedtime.
I am hoping that, going through on all these things, will make you see and realise how important sleep is. It should not be just a thing you do at night because you are feeling exhausted. It should not be neglected; it should not be done with “who cares if I lose that one- or two-hour sleep just to binge watch another episode of that series” attitude. Sleep is so much more important than most people realise. It has a huge affect on so many things in your body and it impacts the way it functions. Because within the human physical body, all is connecting to one and another. If one process is not functioning in the best way possible, other systems will feel the affect of it. It is a circle that is up to you how it runs.