Let’s talk about The Healing Power of Sleep
When you nod off, it seems like your body powers down for the night. But as you sleep, your body actually repairs and restores itself. “Think of sleep as the tune-up you need to run smoothly,” says Dr. David M. Rapoport, MD. Rapoport is director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU.
Sleep gives the body time to do some very important things. Here are a few…
- It protects your waistline
Yep, To protect your waistline, make bedtime a priority. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well rested.
“We’re discovering that a part of the brain that controls sleep also plays a role in appetite and metabolism,” Rapoport says.
When you skimp on your ZZZs, your body makes more ghrelin and less leptin. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, and leptin is a hormone that tells you
when you’re full.
- Sleep Makes You Smarter
You absorb thousands of things every day, like new words or a new routine in your Zumba class. When you sleep, your brain sorts through all of this info.
“It decides what to store and what to toss,” Rapoport says. The important details become memories you can call upon later.
“If you’re trying to learn something, go to bed,” Rapoport says. Chances are you’ll remember that speech or perform those dance moves better in the morning.
When you toss and turn all night, chances are good you’ll be cranky the next day. But when you’re refreshed, it’s so much easier to be pleasant.
“Sleep allows your mind and body to rest,” Rapoport says. “This can give you energy and a more positive outlook.” It can also help you manage stress.
- Sleep Heals You From the Inside Out
While you sleep, your brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth. This can help you recover from injuries such as cuts or even sore muscles from your last workout.
Quality ZZZs also help your body defend itself. During sleep, you make more white blood cells that attack viruses and bacteria, says Sunita Kumar, MD. Kumar is co-director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Loyola University Medical Center.
In one study, people who slept at least 8 hours a night were 3 times less likely to come down with a cold than those who got 6 hours or less.
- Sleep Guards Your Heart
Your blood pressure dips as you snooze. That may give your heart a break. There may be other heart-health benefits, too.
For instance, your body tweaks your stress hormones during sleep, Kumar says. This, in turn, may curb inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and many other conditions.
- Sleep Makes Tough Decisions Easy
Stumped about something? Hit the hay, and you may wake up to a new way of looking at it. It’s true: You should sleep on big issues.
You need to get enough sleep to think well. “It’s the difference between firing on 4 and 6 cylinders,” Rapaport says.
- Sleep Boosts your Creativity
Your rested brain is better prepared to tap into your unconscious thoughts, according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
1. Create a routine that works for you and keep consistent. Going to bed at the same each day and rise at the same time, too. The power of habit is not to be overlooked!
2. Shut down all technology an hour before bed and don’t sleep with your phone (turn on sleep mode). Not only does this foster a healthy sleeping environment, it reduces your radiation exposure.
3. Finish eating 2 hours before you go to sleep so you aren’t sleeping on a full stomach. This optimizes your bodies ability to repair as it won’t be focusing on digesting your dinner.
4. Avoid warm or hot rooms – a cooler room or light bed clothing (or none!) foster optimal sleeping environments. Body temperature matters!
According to the National Sleep Foundation this is how much sleep we all need:
School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
Adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours
Your Ocean Rock Wellness Team
David M. Rapoport, MD. Rapoport is director of the Sleep Medicine Program at NYU Langone Medical Center and has countless articles from his extensive research on sleep!
Sunita Kumar, MD. Kumar is co-director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Loyola University Medical Center.