“The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health, so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.” - Dr. Francesco Cappuccio of the Warwick Medical School
The foundation of human health and performance is sleeping soundly. This is where we will start to construct a healthy, high-performance life.
What is Sleep?
People often think of sleep as a time of rest where the body and mind shut down. It is a dormant state when the activity of our brain’s cortex reduces by 40 percent. But sleep is not a passive process. While you’re asleep and not moving there is a lot going on inside you that is helping you to recover, restore and rebuild your body and brain. Sleep is a highly active metabolic process that helps to optimize our brain structure, repair damaged cells, and restore energy levels.
Each night while we sleep we cycle through different stages of sleep in approximately 90 minute cycles. 75% of our night’s sleep is in the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) stage where our body and muscles relax, temperature and blood pressure drops, heart rate and breath rate comes down and cells and tissues grow and repair. The other 25% is called the rapid eye movement (REM) stage wherein our brain is active, energy is supplied to brain and body and eyes dart back and forth. REM sleep is equally important and is thought to be when we establish new connections between neurons in the brain. Both stages are critical for the optimal recovery and regeneration of our bodies and our brains.
Sleep and Your Health
Optimal health and performance starts with sleep. You can set yourself up for success in all aspects of your life by sleeping deeply and sleeping enough. Sleeping soundly can help you lose fat, recover faster from training, clean your brain, and be better at solving problems. We consolidate memories while we sleep so sleep is when we actually learn! Our immune systems recover and regenerate while we sleep so sleep helps us to fight off disease and illness. If you’re training sleep is when your muscles repair and grow. Regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete or brilliant student, sleep is the foundation of your healthy, high-performance life.
Today's POWER-UP: Try Yoga for a Deeper Sleep
Yoga is great for helping you to calm down and sleep better. Start with ujjayi breathing for a few minutes to relax and activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Then move through head to knee forward bend, child pose, and corpse pose. That sequence works wonders for calming the body and mind and setting you up for a deep, restful sleep.
Dive Deeper: Wash Your Brain!
Check out this TED talk by Jeff Iliff on one more reason to get a good night's sleep.