The silent healer: Prepare for a great night’s rest and heal your body and mind
By understanding how sleep restores virtually every element of your rhythm of life and taking some extra measures to support it, you can best prepare yourself to heal while you sleep.
When you fall asleep at night, it may feel as if everything powers down with you. But while you are sleeping, your body is actually repairing itself, recovering from the day, and protecting you against damage and illness.
How do sleep cycles help you heal while you sleep?
Although our society doesn’t place a high value on sleep, it is essential to our health. Sleep affects how we perform, feel, and look every day, and can have a tremendous impact on our overall well-being.
Here’s how it works: there are essentially four main stages to our sleep cycle. Each of them plays an important role in restoring and protecting our body and helping you heal while you sleep:
During the first stage of sleep:
- Our minds calm down
- Muscles start to relax
When we reach the second stage, several things start to happen:
- Our blood pressure drops
- Tissue growth and repair begins
- Breathing becomes slow and regular
- Brain waves start to slow down
Stages 3 and 4
The third and fourth stages of sleep are the most restorative. During these stages:
- Our bodies release hormones, including growth hormones that are essential to growth and development
- We start to restore our energy levels
- Blood supply to muscles increases
- Muscles relax
- Tissue growth and repair occurs
Just before our next cycle begins or we wake up, about 25 percent of the time we spend sleeping we spend in REM (Rapid Eye Movement). REM sleep:
- Provides energy to the brain and body
- Supports daytime performance
- Is when brainwaves are active and dreams occur
Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes long. That means that if we sleep for 7 ½ hours at night, we are going through about 5 cycles a night. The NREM sleep cycles – or non-rapid eye movement cycles – are the most restorative, and occur in the earlier hours of the night. So you night owls may be missing out on some well-needed NREM sleep!
Heal while you sleep: How does sleep revive us?
From our heads to our toes, sleep rejuvenates our mind, body and spirit and prepares us for the following day.
Helps our brains work
Sleep is absolutely essential for our brains to carry out everything from the most basic functions to the most complex decisions we make throughout the day. Sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night not only makes it hard to function, but has dangerous implications for our health. Studies show that a lack of sleep could lead to cognitive decline, memory loss and even Alzheimer’s.
Sleep helps our brains:
- Carry out “automatic” tasks, like hormone secretion
- Help us do things that require minimal cognitive function, like getting dressed
- Solve complex problems that require advanced thinking, focus and attention
- Make sense of the thousands of stimuli we receive a day without getting overwhelmed or confused.
- Tag and archive memories, which often happens at night.
Heals our bones, cells and skin
Did you know that sleep is critical in order for our bones to maintain healthy bone marrow? The health of our bone marrow is important, because it is where our stem cells are, which eventually forms blood cells.
Additionally, studies show that there really does seem to be something to the notion of “beauty sleep,” as sleep supports skin health, too. Poor sleep leads to an increase in our stress hormones, which increase inflammation. In addition to being linked to many diseases, inflammation is also what is responsible for skin issues such as acne and psoriasis.
A lack of sleep also accelerates the aging process, since it doesn’t give our damaged cells a chance to repair. And no one wants that!
Boosts our immune system
People who sleep less have more colds and infections.
Additionally, several studies have found that there is a strong link between how much sleep a person gets and how effective a vaccination is. For instance, in one study, those who got more sleep had less of a chance of getting the flu after receiving the flu vaccine.
On an ongoing basis, a chronic lack of sleep can have even more dangerous effects on our bodies. A lack of sleep may manifest itself in unexplained aches and pains, and even fibromyalgia.
Protects our heart health
Eating well and exercising aren’t the only ways to prevent the #1 disease in America. Just getting a better night’s sleep on a regular basis can have a tremendous positive impact on your heart health.
Quite simply, a lack of sleep makes the heart work harder. Without enough sleep we:
- Put ourselves at an increased risk for high blood pressure
- Increase our stress and anxiety levels, which contribute to heart disease
- Have an elevated risk of diabetes and obesity, while slowing down our metabolism
Hacks to prepare for a restorative night’s sleep
So how can you make sure your body is well prepared to heal while you sleep? Here are some hacks to foster a night of deep, restorative rest:
- Get the amount of sleep you need. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
- Have a bedtime routine: Follow these tips for a bedtime routine that will position you to heal while you sleep.
- Use essential oils: These essential oils will promote calm and relaxation.
- Break a cycle of bad sleep: Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Try these tricks to help you finally get a good night’s rest once and for all.
How about a nightly cup of chamomile?
People around the world have relied upon chamomile tea for centuries to help them relax, calm their minds and sleep. Why not curl up with a cup of chamomile tea in a Healthy Human Rover Pint Cup? Let us know how it went in the morning in the comments below!
How do you help your body heal while you sleep?
How do you help your body heal while you sleep? Share your story and tips with us in the comments section below.