The Most Important Thing: SLEEP?????
What? What? What? Oh you read that right the most important thing for your mental, physical, and emotional health is.... you guessed it SLEEP. The great thing is you don't have to do anything just sleep and that's it. Now getting to sleep is another story we will get to in a minute. You might be wondering how the hell sleep can be soooo important, well I will tell you. The book, Why We Sleep, by Dr. Matthew Walker is the preeminent book on the subject. It goes into great detail on why sleep is so key for living a well rounded healthy life. I will give you a rough overview of the main points that I learned from that book, a few other books, some articles I read, and podcasts I have listened to. Sleep assists big time with cognitive function as it preps the brain to learn new information, your learning capacity if you will. It helps you process all that new information. During a good nights sleep that information you learned goes from short term (hippocampus) to long term memory storage (cortex). You think pulling an all nighter for work or for a test is a good idea? Wrong. During sleep your glymphatic system comes alive and gives your brain a good flush and scrub taking care of all waste and toxins that accumulated throughout the day so you can function correctly tomorrow. One of the things that is flushed out is amyloid plaque which is associated with Alzheimer's disease. The older we get the more important sleep becomes especially deep sleep (NREM). Want to get better at a sport? Piano? Pretty much every motor skill and function you learn during the days becomes hardwired during sleep. Want to know why you are cranky and a real treat to be around when you haven't slept enough? The lack of sleep gives you an over reactive amygdala (insert 'Waterboy' quote now) and does not regulate your pre frontal cortex making you more impulsive and less thoughtful in your responses. The classic someone bumps into you at work and you flip the break table, just get some sleep. If you want better appetite and lose some extra LBS, sleep better. When you don't get a good night's rest ghrelin the hormone that promotes hunger goes up and leptin which is produced by the fat cells to tell you when you are full goes down. You get a double WHAMMY. Plus your impulse control is worse when you don't sleep well, good luck turning down that cake. Poor sleeping habits causes your immune system to be suppressed and raises your chances of cardiovascular problems. To really hammer it home to the fellas lack of sleep causes low testosterone so before you go for a TRT treatment work on your sleep. Lastly every psychiatric condition has an extremely high correlation with sleep and a lack there of. To summarize, sleep effects EVERYTHING in our body as no system is immune to the awesome power of sleep. That was informative but how the hell are you going to help me sleep better you ask? Here are some easy tips I have learned and have helped me crash like the stock market during Corona Virus when I hit the pillow.
1. Your bed is for sleeping and doing the dirty, end of story. Don't work on your computer in bed and remove the TV from your bedroom. DO IT!
2. Spend what you can on making your bed as comfortable as possible. Invest in your sleep.
3. Keep the bedroom cold when you sleep. I keep mine around 66 degrees. Your core temperature has to drop for you to fall asleep. Along with that take a warm shower or bath before bed. Warm???? Yes your body will expel heat from your core so it helps get your temperature down. Try and sleep in light clothing or go buck naked.
4. Careful of your screen time at night as blue light from devices triggers your body to think it is daylight which screws up your circadian rhythm. There are blue blocking glasses but haven't nerded out and gotten them yet but will as well as provide a review.
5. To piggy back off the above get out in the sun preferably in the morning to set your circadian rhythm. Try to get an hour of direct sunlight a day.
Are there a bunch of other things you can do to help you sleep? Oh yeah, hell there's countless books on the subject. These are the just main ones that I feel help the most and are the easiest to follow. If you want to get into specifics and really get a tailor made plan for you, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.