- Most people do not plan their sleep.
- This article covers some of the essential considerations on sleep planning.
Planning sleep is important, getting the best sleep and having the sleep maximize the repair cycle in your body.
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The Relationship Between Sleep and Repair
Before getting into the sleep planing, it is first good to discuss the relationship between sleep and repair. This is explained in some of the following quotes.
During sleep, a higher level of collagen is released into the body. Collagen proteins help strengthen skin cells and repair those that are damaged. This is important for the healing process. As a side benefit, collagen reduces wrinkles and helps skin look younger.
During the day as you rush to work, head to the gym in the afternoon and get a few chores done before bed, your muscles are working hard and burning energy. Your body releases adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones to meet the energy demands. When you fall asleep, these hormone levels decrease and different beneficial hormones including the human growth hormone are released, which help with muscle repair, growth and general maintenance.
Your body is busy with all your life tasks from walking to working all day long. When you head to bed, your body turns attention to the immune system. Proteins, white blood cells and other substances are sent out to fight off germs, infection and disease. Lack of sleep can actually decrease your resistance to infection and disease because this immune system boost is not able to be completed. Increasing your sleep when you are fighting disease or infection allows your immune system more time to do its work and helps with recovery. – Whitehall
Immunocompromised During the Day?
This quote explains that one is essentially “immunocompromised” during the day. This is because the immune system cannot work at full capacity while one is awake, as the body can be viewed as in its production mode.
This is generally not very well explained, as one is usually taught to think of the immune system as just a general defense system that is constantly functioning. This quote above illustrates the strong connection between melatonin and immunity. Melatonin is also connected to human growth hormone or HGH, and HGH also increases during sleep, again to promote repairs.
Repair happens disproportionately when we sleep.
Therefore, it is more accurate to view sleep as active rather than viewing sleep as a passive activity (which is how most people look at it). We are not conscious, of course, which is a significant reason that we underestimate its importance (how can something be so important if the body prefers us to be unconscious?), but our body and brain are very active. Our consciousness is not, and our body is not active in that it is not moving around. It is most accurate to consider the period of sleep as one of the most critical to one’s health. This means not only getting a lot of sleep but also providing a good sleep environment, regulating the timing of sleep, and providing the best nutrients to the body so it can take advantage of the time of sleep. This last part is nearly entirely ignored by the population and much of the available information on the topic.
Item #1: The Highest Quality Sleep Time
According to the following quote, the first four hours of sleep are the most important.
The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. After 2am, your sleep becomes more superficial. If you are not getting the deep, regenerative sleep that occurs between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., then you may wake up between 2 a.m. – 3 a.m., when the sleep cycle naturally becomes more superficial, and have trouble falling back to sleep. If your body is chronically deprived of the regenerative sleep between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., then you may still feel fatigued when you wake up in the morning. – Dr Oz Show
This is curious and personal because I awake every night after around 4 hours of sleep. I had chalked it up to being hungry. However, I don’t feel fatigued in the morning.
Item #2: Getting to Sleep by 10 PM
If you are awake past 10 p.m., this process of free radical removal becomes interrupted, and your body’s ability to remove the effects of free radicals is significantly impaired. First of all, most people who stay awake past 10 p.m. are usually working on the computer, watching TV or reading. Typically, if you miss the 10 p.m. bedtime, it will take much longer to fall asleep. The quality of sleep will also be less refreshing and there will still be a sense of fatigue in the morning. Even adjusting your bedtime from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. will make an enormous difference in the quality of your sleep and enhance your feeling of wakefulness the following day. – Dr Oz Show
Item #3: Caffeine and the Sleep Cycle
Stop drinking caffeine. Caffeine disrupts your natural sleep cycle. Even drinking caffeine in the morning interrupts your sleep because, over time, it causes a chemical shift towards a state of excitation. Caffeine taken in the second half of the day is an even bigger obstacle to deep sleep during the night. Stopping caffeine abruptly can be quite stressful to the nervous system so slowly taper off your caffeine gradually over 4-8 weeks. – Dr Oz Show
This brings up the question of whether we should stop taking caffeine.
Unfortunately, caffeine is interwoven into social interaction. “Getting a coffee” or going to Starbucks is sort of a cultural phenomena. However, it makes sense that one does not need to “prime the pump” of cortisol and adrenaline which is promoted by caffeine as it is a stimulant.
There are many important items to consider that will help anyone improve their sleep and their immune system.