Sleep is just as important as eating but many of us don’t really give any thought to it. Sometimes having very little sleep or low-quality sleep and thinking nothing of it. You feel the effects the next day and a week or so later have another bad night of sleep. But before you can understand sleep and how to have a healthy, full life then you should understand the science behind it. What’s going on in your body when you sleep?
Booths bring an insight into the science behind sleep and with this knowledge you may be able to understand the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Every one of us has an internal clock on a 24-hour cycle, very carefully balanced by chemicals within our body. These push us to do certain activities at specific points of the day such as eating and sleeping. These are called circadian rhythms and they’re not unique to humans, they’re found in all animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. They dictate every type of activity from feeding to movement in plants and in humans they mostly govern our sleep schedules.
Several factors affect our internal clock and shape when we feel sleep or feel energised, such as exposure to light. When exposed to light a signal is relayed through the retina to an area of the brain which plays the role of making us feel sleepy or awake. When it’s dark outside these signals are not activated, stating that it’s time to start winding down for sleep. Eventually you will naturally feel sleepy and go to bed. Therefore, it’s advised not to use technology before going to bed or using it while in bed, as this sends confusing signals to your brain about the time of day. You’ll usually find it quite difficult to fall asleep after using a laptop for an hour or so as your brain will think it’s not time for sleep yet.
One of the most important chemicals involved in the whole process of sleep is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that makes us feel drowsy and is vital to our sleep schedules. It increases at night and reaches peak levels in the middle of the night, telling us it’s time to sleep.
Melatonin production links with our internal clock, as exposure to light prevents melatonin’s release. With the lack of exposure causes its release, making us feel drowsy and ready to sleep.
It’s important that you do everything you can to stick to this natural sleep schedule, as straying from it or actively fighting it with overuse of technology or caffeine then it can have negative effects on your daily life. A few hours before bed make sure not to take any caffeine or alcohol and ensure that your sleeping environment is suitable such as no light making its way into the room, disturbing your sleep and your sleep cycle.
Look at your bed and mattress, as they may be affecting your sleep cycle too. A mattress that’s not suited for you can disturb your sleep several times a night, so it’s advised you do some research on what’s best for your needs.