Exploring The Benefits Of Sleep

benefits of sleep

Sleep is an essential aspect of our life. It is when we give our body and mind rest and a chance to rejuvenate for the following day. In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on the benefits of sleep to improve people’s mental and physical well-being.

Sleep in Religion

It might come as a surprise to know that religion and sleep correlate. All three Abrahamic religions consider sleep a way for the body to find peace.

In Judaism, Mimonedes, an estimated physician and Rabai, recommends six to eight hours of sleep and waking up early to get most of the day.

In Islam, sleep is one of the miracles of the creator, and their holy book ” The Qurit” refers to it with different words. Each word describes a different kind of sleep, which we refer to as stages of sleep.

In Christianity, sleep is a refuge from the day’s chaos for the believers, making it also a gift from God for those He loves.

Generally speaking, all three religions consider sleep a means to get closer to God.

However, for Muslims, it seems to be more detailed regarding directions. Sleeping right after the last night’s prayer is praised. In addition, waking up early in the morning seems to bring a lot of blessings.

What is a circadian rhythm?

Circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour cycle that regulates the physiological processes of living organisms, including humans. It is essentially the body’s internal clock, which is controlled by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The circadian rhythm affects a range of bodily functions, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, and body temperature. Disruptions to the circadian rhythm, such as jet lag or shift work, can lead to sleep disorders and other health problems.

Sleep cycles

The sleep cycle is the pattern of four stages of sleep that occur throughout the night. These stages include light sleep, true sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. The sleep cycle typically lasts for around 90-110 minutes and repeats throughout the night. During a single night’s sleep, a person will typically go through several cycles of these four stages.

benefits of sleep

Circadian rhythm vs sleep cycle

The Circadian rhythm regulates bodily functions like sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, and body temperature. The sleep cycle is the pattern of four stages of sleep that occur throughout the night. While related, they are not the same thing.

Proper sleep hygiene to regulate your circadian Rhythm

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that can help promote good, restful sleep. These habits include:

  1. Establishing a consistent bedtime and sticking to it even on weekends.
  2. Creating a sleep-conducive environment that is cool, dark, and quiet.
    • The ideal room temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60- 67 F (16-20 Celcius)
    • Dimming the lights after sunset stimulates melatonin production.
  3. Remove all electronics and screens from the room, even the TV.
  4. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime. Research suggests limiting overall caffeine intake as it may affect some people’s sleep even when taken six hours before bedtime.
  5. Drink sleep-promoting herbal teas.
  6. Getting regular exercise, but avoiding strenuous physical activity in the hours leading up to bedtime5. Limiting exposure to screens and blue light in the evenings.
  7. Avoiding large meals, spicy foods, and drinking too much water before bedtime.
    It is best to have your last meal at least three hours before you go to bed.
  8. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as prayer, meditation, or deep breathing reduces stress and anxiety. Such habits can improve the quality and quantity of sleep, leading to better overall health and well-being.
  9. Implement the habit of going to bed before midnight and waking up at daybreak.

Benefits of good sleep

Our brain needs downtime throughout the day. Even during a break, the brain is not resting.

If we are constantly doing things, even when scrolling through social media, our brain does not get the chance to complete its processing and rejuvenation tasks.

The Brain and Creativity Institute, California, published a paper under the title “Rest is not Idleness”, explaining that when we take a break, the brain does the much-needed maintenance to function at its optimal level.

Also, staying awake for 16 hours consecutively may cause a decline in the brain’s cognitive and performance levels.

Duration of sleep is just as important as its quality. However, the amount of sleep differs from each individual due to age, activity level, and physical fitness. Lack of sleep can lead to serious mental issues and physical decline.

benefits of sleep

Why should we go to bed before midnight?

  • It helps regulate our circadian rhythm.
  • Some studies have shown that people who tend to go to bed and wake up late have a shorter lifespan. They also are at higher risk of psychological and physical disorders.
  • During sleep, our body restores itself even new neuropathways are made. This all happens in the first half of the night.
  • Pre-midnight sleep brings about the most restorative time for the brain and the body. People who go to bed early and wake up early tend to have better routines, leading to better overall well-being.

Benefits of waking up early

People’s sleep schedules are different. Some naturally prefer to go to bed early and wake up early, which we call “Early Beird.” Others enjoy nightlife better and have a hard time waking up early, they are referred to as “Night Owls.”

Many studies suggest that later sleep is associated with many health issues. However, simply waking up early does not solve the problems.

People who stay up late tend to accumulate “sleep debt” that is not easy to “make up” if they try to force themselves to wake up early without going to bed early. Instead, it would be best to shift their sleep schedule gradually.

When it comes to social life, night owls may develop social jet lag. As they find themselves forced to wake up for work or school, they need to make up their sleep on their days off, depriving them of much-needed fun interactions. Eventually, they may develop social anxiety and personal relationship problems.

Research also suggests that people who shifted their sleep two hours earlier showed faster reaction times and increased grip strength.

Getting enough sleep is part of the self-care regimen that every individual should pay attention to. Waking up early allows for more time for devotion, alone time, and making a healthy breakfast.

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