Licence to snooze: taking sleep for granted?

Imagine if you had to get a permit to sleep. How much wouldn’t that make you appreciate the sleep you’d be allowed to get? How much do you take sleep for granted? Most of us see sleep as something so guaranteed, that we don’t appreciate it at all. We know that once we really really need it, we can lie down, and the restorative powers of sleep will be right there to fill in for us. However, if you speak to an insomniac, you’ll find out how deeply they wish for the sweet release for something you take for granted, and even ignore.

Sleep heals:

Your body needs sleep to repair cellular damage and recharge. Chronic lack of quality sleep is so destructive that it shortens life expectancy. Our use of stimulants, increasing exposure to pollution, and other sources of stress are making getting a good night’s sleep very difficult in the modern era.

Sleeping only once extremely tired:

Sleep is the enemy in today’s rushed world, often maligned, and mostly misunderstood. Many people think that sleep is something you do when you are so exhausted that you collapse into a sort of coma — until the next morning’s coffee, that is, when you get going again. To keep up with the rush, many of us purposely sleep less by incorporating various stimulant aids like coffee and caffeinated drinks, nicotine, alcohol, and sugar, etc. The general attitude is one of, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” It is interesting to note that the sleep we do get isn’t the regenerative sleep we need, but merely the body’s coping mechanism. For the body to regenerate, it needs to have the energy to do so. Quality sleep actually requires you to be already rested.

Different energies for sleep and awake:

But what needs to be healed? During the day your body is using the sympathetic nervous system, spending energy and tearing down the body to execute our various activities. Your sympathetic nervous system is balanced by the parasympathetic system, which is associated with rest and regeneration, maintenance and repair. If you skimp on regenerative activity by not sleeping enough, your physical and mental performance suffers. Illness develops because there is not enough time for your body to repair damaged tissues. If you have a chronic illness, you absolutely need extra rest and sleep, but every person needs the restorative powers of sleep.

Sleep prevents aging
Sleep prevents aging

Ageing and sleep:

The simple (yet oh so important to understand) created purpose of sleep is to repair biological systems. Our cellular biology actually requires periods of rest and sleep for growth and to perform maintenance functions. These processes are energy intensive. For optimal growth and repair, our bodies require quality sleep that is built on a regular schedule of sleep that our bodies depend on. When you sleep irregular hours, such as short periods of sleep during the week, and long sleep binges over the weekend, that system gets broken down and your body runs on damage control mode at all times, until you crash.

Melatonin and sleep

Melatonin is the hormone that indicates to the body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is triggered by a system based on light, where bright light, like sunlight, indicates to the body that it is day time, and therefore time to be alert, and fading light indicates that it’s time for melatonin to start being produced, making you sleepy and bringing the onset of sleep. Melatonin is suppressed by coffee, which is why it’s a good stimulant, but coffee can play complete havoc on when your body actually starts producing melatonin, making it difficult for you to sleep. Melatonin is supposed to be activated 2 hours before your regular sleep time.

Running on caffeine:

Anything that makes your body run on high energy mode, like sugar, coffee and caffeinated or energy drinks, block the calming neurotransmitters which help you to sleep. They also create biochemical chaos which can cause mind racing and disorganized thinking, making it hard to relax enough to sleep, creating a downward spiral of poor quality sleep and even later nights.

Artificial lighting:

granted sleep melatoninSomething else that keeps your sleep at bay is artificial lighting. Try to sleep in a room that is quiet and completely dark (any light inhibits melatonin production). Minimize exposure to bright light 2 hours before going to bed (avoid flickering lights and screens). This requires you to actually have a set bedtime, which will also allow your body to get into a rhythm where it expects to sleep at a certain time. Exposure to light before bedtime can slow down our ability to fall asleep by reducing levels of melatonin. Scientists have found that the blue-light wavelengths have become prevalent in our world (LED television sets and computers, smartphone and tablet screens) and these slow melatonin even more efficiently. However, when you should be seeking out light is during the day. Step out of your office, even for a few minutes, every hour or so, and get some sunlight. People exposed to daylight or bright light therapy have been shown to sleep better.

Good mattress for good sleep:

MEmory foam supports your back
Memory foam supports your back

Another important factor in getting high quality and restful sleep is your mattress. For your body to perform its regenerating work during the night, it can’t be inhibited by a mattress that places the muscles, bones, and nerves under strain. It also can’t be fighting against dusty air that clogs your breathing passages, or be uncomfortably tossing and turning.

Back support for muscle paralysis phase:

There is a phase during our sleep cycle while your muscles are effectively paralysed, and you lie dead still. If, during the phase, you’re lying on a mattress that forces your back it crunch in on itself, pinching nerves and putting muscles under tension, your rest will leave you feeling distinctly unrested, stiff, and painful. Your mattress needs to keep your back in a neutral position, allowing every joint and muscle to lie at rest.

Hygiene of mattress:

Mattresses accumulate our natural waste over time, as your body sheds hair, sloughs off skin cells, and sweats while you’re sleeping. Most of this waste sticks around in, or on, your mattress. This in turn attracts dust mites, bed bugs, and bacteria who are keen to feed on you or your waste. These pesky parasites, as well as your waste, are breathed in by you while you’re asleep, and keep you from breathing clearly and drawing enough oxygen into your lungs. This, in turn, can make you snore, a symptom that your body isn’t getting the air it needs to be rested and not starved. All mattresses reach the point where they should be replaced at around 10 years old, no matter how supportive they still are.

Foam, coil, firm or soft:

Every physique build and personality feels more comfortable on a different mattress. Angular, taller people, generally prefer a firmer mattress. Smaller and curvier people like something and more supportive for the cavities under their hips and lower backs. Whatever your preference is, if you’re sleeping on a mattress that is not what you would be most comfortable on, your sleep is of much lower quality. Choose to get a mattress that you feel makes you rested, not only is a surface for collapsing onto.

Sleep should leave you full of energy!
Sleep should leave you full of energy!

The Mattress Warehouse sells mattresses for every preference, with soft, memory foam beds, like Silentnight, Genessi, and the Simmons Crescendo, and firmer beds like Cloud Nine or Edblo. Whatever your need, we can fill it. Call us today on 0861 007 000 for more information.