Awakening Facts: The Importance of Sleep

Beautyrest
October 25, 2018

Think you’re getting the most out of your sleep? Follow along with us on Instagram @Beautyrest to learn some new #AwakeningFacts. Scroll down below to master serious facts about getting serious sleep as seen via our Instagram Stories.

Sleep and Healthy Weight

Our ability to maintain a healthy weight is largely regulated by two hormones which include leptin and ghrelin. These two hormones operate in opposition so that leptin is the hormone that tells the brain you have had enough to eat, whereas ghrelin is the hunger hormone that stimulates appetite. Unfortunately sleep deprivation throws off the careful balance between hunger and sense of satiety. According to research, short sleep (4 hours or less) is associated on average with consumption of 300 extra calories. Consequently, consistent healthy sleep duration (7 to 8 hours for most adults) is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Sleep and Memory

Sleep was viewed for many years in medicine as a highly passive state. However, research suggests the contrary—sleep is a highly active state that offers tremendous benefits to our waking lives. Sleep spindles, or electrical sparks that take place in stage 2 sleep, stimulate the cortex so as to preserve recently acquired information and facilitate the transfer from short to long-term memory. This leads us to believe that that sleep is an integral part of our ability to remember.
 
Source: National Geographic

Sleep and Athletes 

Sleep is a cornerstone of peak athletic performance. According to research, athletes who are incentivized to spend more time sleeping realize tangible improvements to their performance to the tune of 10% improvements to free throw percentages among basketball players and 10% faster sprint times.6 While exercise and nutrition are critical pillars of health, sleep plays a vital role in preparing the athletes brain and body for peak performance.
 
Source: NCBI

Role of Dreams

Vivid dreams occur during REM sleep. The role of dreams has long fascinated humans and numerous theories exist. New research indicates that dreams are a complicated, evolved mechanism for the emotional processing of memories. Dreams are generated or transmitted in the visual cortex, specifically in the right inferior lingual gyrus. This part of the brain is associated with visual processing, emotion and visual memories. By helping us process emotions, dreams help us wake up ready to face the day.
 
Source: Scientific American

Sleep and Happiness

Are sleep and happiness related? A recent study seems to suggest that they are. The study found that a regular sleep pattern contributes to the happiness and well-being of college-students. Higher sleep regularity is related to higher morning and evening happiness, healthiness and calmness. When students transitioned from an irregular sleep pattern to a regular one, there was an observed improvement in well-being.
 
Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus - Our Master Clock

Peaks in our logical reasoning, muscle strength, and reaction time are all dictated by the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, or SCN, our master internal clock. The SCN generates a near 24-hour rhythm and adapts phasic physiological activities to environmental cycles - such as light and dark. As light travels through the optic nerve, it goes to the SCN, informing the mind and body of how to behave. Based on sunlight, there is a peak in logical reasoning between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and a peak in muscle strength between 4 and 6 p.m. At dusk, the SCN signals the pineal gland to release melatonin, a hormone that tells the body darkness has arrived. Artificial light can disrupt this system, especially when exposed to it at night and up close on electronic screens. The bluer and brighter the light, the more likely it is to suppress melatonin release and shift our sleep cycle. Those who lessen exposure to artificial light and night experience fewer delays in sleep at night - keeping the SCN intact to natural environmental cues for sleep and waking.
 
Source: NCBI & National Geographic