August 15, 2022
We know sleep is important. How important? Well for one, without it, we die. The longest recorded length of time someone has been able to live without sleep is 11 days (a Guinness World Record held by Randy Gardener). That’s because sleep affects so much of our body’s functions - including our metabolism, weight, hormones, mood, and cognitive function. And that’s just in the short-term. Not getting enough zzzz’s over the long haul puts us at a higher risk of health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. In this Guide, we’ll explore how sleep affect us, and what you can do to give yourself the best, most rejuvenating rest.
Let’s start with the obvious: Sleep is our daily renewal therapy. When we sleep, our brain waves become longer and our body functions slow down - helping to restore our mind and heal our body. Our immune system goes into “restore and repair” more, releasing proteins called cytokines which help to fight inflammation, while our pituitary gland releases growth hormone to help us heal and repair.
Our pineal gland is also hard at work - releasing melatonin, a hormone which helps us fall and stay asleep, plus serves as an antioxidant that reduces stress, regulates other hormones, protects organs and lowers blood pressure. When we sleep our liver also works on getting rid of old junk. The liver does a lot of its detoxifying work in the early hours of the morning, helping to clear your body of debris that, if left unchecked, can contribute to inflammation.
Sleep also has a big impact on our brain; affecting focus, concentration, creativity, abstract thinking, and our ability to learn. A from the University of California discovered that REM sleep provides added problem-solving capability and is the best state for creative processing, boosting problem-solving ability by almost 40%. Sleep also helps us remember and retain new skills. When we sleep, our brains process information, sorting through your day and creating long-term memories. Without sleep, learning would have a 24hr expiry date.
Some studies suggest that sleep also helps to manage our weight. A study performed at Columbia University concluded that people who slept only 5 hours per night were 50% more likely to be overweight than those who slept the recommended 6 to 8 hours. Why? People with a lack of sleep have higher levels of ghrelin, (the “hunger hormone”), and lower levels of leptin, a signal that tells your brain when you’re full.
Sleep also plays a vital role in hormone production and secretion. This includes estrogen and progesterone - two of the many hormones which are vital in maintaining our reproductive system and fertility potential. These hormones get signaled by cortisol first thing in the morning— but when we don’t sleep well, the disruption of cortisol can have a domino effect, disrupting the release of estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to further hormone imbalance and thyroid disfunction, all of which affects your ability to conceive.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that sleep helps us live longer! A joined study between the University of Warwick and University Medical School in Italy reviewed a series of 16 studies from around the world, featuring a combined total of 1.3 million participants followed up for up to 25 years. They found that people who sleep for less than 6 hours per night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who got the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
What do babies and cats have in common? They sleep A LOT - up to 18 hours! Moreover, more than half of those hours are in the really deep REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep (where we do all our best dreaming). As we get older, our need for sleep goes down; averaging somewhere between 4 to 9 hours per night (and we only spend 20% of that in REM). Most health practitioners will recommend that we get somewhere between 6-8 hours of sleep per night, however, exactly how much sleep we need as adults will vary and depends on a few factors.
Age, for one - as we get older we need less and less. Genetics also plays a role. (Thomas Edison only needed 3 to 4 hours a night). However, according to many sleep experts, the biggest factor is related to the type of sleep we get. The more time we spend in the deeper, more refreshing, stages of sleep and less time in the lighter early stages, the more restful we feel the next day. In other words, a good night’s rest is less about the exact number of hours and more about the QUALITY of sleep in those hours. So how can we improve sleep quality?
The following 4 Sleep Secrets will help you fall, and stay, in the most restful and blissful sleep.
The key to a better night’s sleep rests in developing the right habits. Strip out the following bad sleep-suppressing habits from your routine for a better night’s rest.
Replace bad habits and sleep-suppressors with sleep-supportive habits; allowing you to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep the whole night, and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed!
Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary; a place you will look forward to resting your weary head each night. Make sure your bedroom is…
As much as a good night’s rest is about habits, routines, and environment, it is also about mindset - after all, it’s your brain that you are trying to shut off. There are three steps to creating the right mindset for optimal sleep:
Now that you know the 4 Secrets to A Blissful Sleep, you can enjoy the many benefits that come along with more energy, clarity, focus, and relaxation. Which of these secrets will you try tonight?
Wishing you a great night and bright morning!
Do you spend 8+ hours in front of the computer all day? In How To Sit Less you'll learn what a sedentary lifestyle does to your health and more importantly, what you can do about it!
Ewa Reid is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, certifying Fertility Support Practitioner, nutrition & fertility educator, wife, and mother. You can learn more about Ewa on our About page.
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January 02, 2023
Are you tired of feeling less than perfect? Tired of trying to fit other people’s expectations? Tired of feeling badly about things of the past that you cannot change? The path to unconditional love is paved with acceptance, and this article explores what it takes to really accept your imperfections and truly fall in love with your flaws.
Join me on this journey of compassion and self-love. We’ll explore what it means to be truly free. To shed the shackles of self-doubt. To take bigger, more meaningful risks. To sleep a little more soundly. To be bit more productive. To be better friends, daughters, sisters, lovers. To just be better, happier humans.
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