What's Really Going On When We Get Those ZZZs?
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” is not only a saying that saddens and bothers me, but is a mindset I often see put into practice. It’s incomprehensible for me to think that you have to run yourself ragged to be successful and happy in life!
“My home is my happy place, and my bedroom is my sanctuary,” is my número uno life skills mantra, and that’s opposite of a “doing-doing-doing all the time” mantra. My “happy place” is my oasis where I’m able to decompress from external forces of the world, and get the grounding I need; and my “sanctuary” is my treasured space entirely set apart for sleep and intimacy—both places are absolute musts for my wellbeing.
Cycling Through The ZZZs
Sleep is the time our body repairs and restores itself, and optimizing our sleep is one of the most important ways we combat mental and physical stress.
Our brain is still active during sleep as it responds to internal stimuli and cycles through two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM.
Non-REM comprises of the nodding-off, light sleep, and deep sleep phases. We experience maximum restorative hormone flow and cellular repair in our deep sleep phase—immune system is strengthened, physical energy is restored, and muscles, organs and bones are repaired and replenished.
After flowing through non-REM sleep, we enter REM (aka dream sleep). During REM, muscles in our limbs are paralyzed, eyes move rapidly, breathing shallows, and heart rate and blood pressure increase. REM sleep improves spatial, perceptual, and visual skills, and sorts out emotional experiences and stressful events. Important neural connections strengthen memory, replenish cognitive processing, and boost serotonin and dopamine (“feel-good” neurotransmitters).
Creating A Sleep Sanctuary
Optimal sleep not only includes getting enough sleep, but also quality sleep, which means getting at least four cycles of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Achieving the ideal number of sleep cycles is guided by optimal hormone flow, but this delicate process can easily be disrupted by outside influences. So, I’ve included these proven strategies to help you create your own sleep sanctuary:
Honor your circadian rhythm by synchronizing your sleeping habits with the rising and setting of the sun.
Engage in mellow evenings of minimal artificial lighting and digital stimulation.
Sleep in a quiet, tidy, cool (between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit), completely dark room.
Awaken naturally near sunrise without using an alarm clock if possible, and expose yourself to direct sunlight as soon as you awaken.
Avoid drinking alcohol and eating high-carb foods near bedtime.
Create a relaxing setting close to bedtime i.e. leisure reading, journaling, prayer/meditation.
Decrease EMF exposure while sleeping by unplugging things before going to bed (i.e. lamps, fans, power strips) in your bedroom; putting your phone in airplane mode; and turning off wireless devices in your house i.e. Wi-Fi router, smart TVs, computers.
Avoid turning on lights if you wake up to go to the bathroom. Most people can adjust to the darkness if they let themselves. Use a small flashlight if you need to light your path.
All of us desperately need good sleep every night—it’s fundamental to a healthy, happy, productive life. Without it, you’ll run yourself into the ground only to speed up your life clock.
I want to help you to stay healthy and mitigate the stress you might be experiencing during this unprecedented and most challenging time; good sleep is non-negotiable for both. By creating your own sleep sanctuary, you’ll awaken feeling pumped and prepped for the day that awaits you, so that you can “Bring To Life Your Awesomeness!”
In my upcoming post, I’ll talk about how a heart of gratitude creates balance and reduces stress in your life.
Check out my free eBook, Seven Actions To Kick Start Fat Burning Without Going To The Gym, for simple and effective Primal-aligned strategies to help you thrive on your unique health journey. You can find the free eBook by clicking Free Fat Burning Offer.
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to respond to this blog with your comments, or contact me with questions or feedback.
With love and care, Tressa