Sleep: Nature’s own nurse?


why you ask?

Because all the experts and all the related science are clearly telling us that our brains and bodies need it, and need it a lot.

“And how on earth do I have time to get at least 8 hours?”

I personally find that when we we have a why we can always find a how.  

    The single most important experience we have on a daily basis is sleep.
If you’re an average person, 36% of your ENTIRE life will be spent…..yup, that’s right,  asleep.
If you live to age 90….32 years of your life will have been spent entirely asleep.  Is your jaw dropping yet?
Clearly our bodies were designed with sleep as a very important part of our existence….yet so many of us ignore it, prioritize it low on our lists, or “don’t have time for it”.
How is such an important thing being lost to so many of us and why do we absolutely have time to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night?
We don’t realize what we’re missing out on.
We’re not just missing out on sleep, oh no.  We are missing out on so much more than that.
“oh sleep oh gentle sleep, nature’s soft nurse”
Nature’s soft nurse.
That is what sleep is!
Russel Foster, a circadian neuroscientist at oxford University, puts so well into perspective the magnitude of sleep in our life in one of his ted talks called Why do we sleep?
“When you celebrate your 60th wedding anniversary, its worth reflecting that of those 60 years, 21.5 were probably asleep, so it’s perhaps only reasonable to only celebrate 38.5 years. The key thing is the quality of that 21.5 years spent asleep will to some extent dictate the quality of those years awake with your partner.”
Foster lays out 3 proposed theories of the most important reasons about why we sleep
1. Restoration: Restore, replace, and rebuild during the night. This idea goes all the way back to Aristotle.  In the brain, a whole bundle of genes are turned on only while we sleep to restore neurotransmitters and essentially “heal” our brain and body from the work they did that day.  Our brain rids itself of toxins and rehydrates during our sleep cycles so that it can function at higher rates when we are awake.  Our brains build up plaque throughout the day (and over the years) that many scientists have theorized is part of the cause of autism and dementia.  To rid our brain of the plaque build up, we must sleep so that our bodies can detoxify from the day and repair themselves to tackle tomorrow.
2. Energy Conservation: We sleep to save calories?!  We only save about 110 calories a night which is the equivalent of a hot dog bun.  We don’t actually sleep to lose weight, but we do conserve and use different types of energy during the sleep cycle.  Taking a sleeping pill to doze off won’t leave you feeling truly rested when you awake from your medicated slumber.  Many wonder why? because to truly let your body rest and heal, conversing and renewing energy for the following day, you must go into the deepest stages of sleep; something often inhibited by most sleep aids.  They may help you get to sleep, but they won’t properly lead you down the many levels of slumber that we need to travel in order to reap sleep’s true benefits.
3. Brain Processing and Memory Consolidation: Sleep deprived individuals have a hugely disadvantaged ability to learn and remember new tasks.  Sound like anyone you  know? Our ability to come up with solutions to complex problems is extremely enhanced by our sleep.  The most vital synapses tend to be repaired during sleep while the less important parts of our brain take a break.  Our brains actually do a TON of hard and important work while we get some ZZZ’s.  Are heads are less “foggy”, we remember better, and we can use the parts of our complex cerebral system more efficiently on a full night’s rest.
I think the biggest take away I’ve learned from learning about sleep is that I have to get enough.  
I can’t afford not to.  
For me, I know that with sleep I have more patience, more gratitude, and more time for the things that matter. 
“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action”.
-John Dewey


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