by Maureen St. Germain
Maureen has been a Native Barre Studios instructor for 5 years. In September 2019, I started a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner course through the Nutritional Therapy Association. I have been continually amazed and excited as I learn about the human body and how we can use food to help heal ourselves from chronic conditions as well as aid with healthy aging. Each month, I will pick a topic and provide insight so we all can work towards optimal health.
Many of us ignore the importance of sleep yet it is essential to our health and wellbeing. Most of us need about 8 hours of sleep to function properly but very few of us actually get that amount each night. I believe the main reason why we don’t get enough sleep is because we don’t prioritize it.
Why should we prioritize sleep?
1. Although sleep may seem passive, it is when our bodies do most of their repair work. This actually takes a considerable amount of energy therefore, we cannot do it while we are awake.
This includes repair growth and repair of tissue. You can think of sleep as an essential part of a good workout. Every time you exercise, the goal is to strengthen your self; aerobic exercise will improve your cardiovascular health while weight lifting will increase your muscle mass. Either way, without quality sleep, your body won’t have the ability to grow and repair.
2. Sleep is also an immunity boost. Our immune cells are most active at night. Immune cells scan our blood to detect invaders and work to neutralize them. Therefore as hopefully emerge from the worse of COVID-19, sleep will be a large part to keeping us healthy as we begin to go about our lives and try to return to our new normal, whatever that may be.
3. Sleep is when our brain is able to solidify memories, moving them from our short term memory into our long-term memory. There are studies that show that it is best to study/ review pertinent information just before bed to help you digest the new information.
4. When we get adequate sleep our brain can work to strengthen nerve connections we use most often. Think of the expression, “Use it or loose it!” If we don’t use it, our brain doesn’t work to strengthen those nerve connections and we will loose it!
5. Sleep allows our bodies to detoxify! Given that toxins are more prevalent than ever in our water(fertilizer run off), in our food(pesticides) and in our environment(blue light from screens) detoxification is an important process in our overall health. In fact, we can’t function optimally if we have a high toxic burden. Think of how you feel after you have had 1 too many glasses of wine or eat a highly processed meal. It always tastes good and goes down easily but you don’t always feel so good a few hours later. I know am not at my best after these two scenarios! It is because my body has too many toxins in them which I was unable to clear.
One of the best health prescriptions out there is to create a routine sleep/ wake cycle. Give yourself a regular bedtime and wake time. This could be within a 30 minute range. Protect this schedule fiercely. It best and easiest way for you to ensure good health. Most important it is free!