Sleep Can Help Regulate Hormones
When we are asleep our body temperature drops and many biological systems slow down. Even though we are in a more relaxed state our body is still working hard to carry out a whole array of extremely important functions that benefit us while we are awake. These functions include: repair, detoxification, healing, storage of energy, and fighting off infection.
During sleep, important hormones such as growth hormone are released. Growth hormone is important for cell growth and repair and for muscle development. When we get enough sleep (8 – 10 hours per night) the hormones that control our appetite are regulated. When we are sleep deprived these hormones are out of balance and causes us to eat more and feel hungrier which can lead to weight gain.
Not getting enough sleep or being stressed right before you go to bed can cause elevated cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands. Consistently high cortisol has been linked to excess body fat, suppressed immune systems and poor cognitive function.
Our circadian rhythmic patterns (aka our biological clock) also regulate endocrine function in our bodies. Therefore, going to bed when the sun goes down and waking up when the sun comes back up is important for proper hormone balance. Melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for helping us fall asleep, increases when the sun goes down.
How You Can Fall Asleep Fast
Here are some tips to help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep long enough for proper endocrine function and wake up refreshed:
1. Sleep in a completely dark room with no light. Blocking out all sources of light sends a signal to your brain to enter sleep mode.
2. Dim the lights in your bedroom at least an hour before bedtime. This lets your brain know that it’s time to wind down and that complete darkness is on it’s way.
3. Avoid any electronic screens or doing anything that requires a lot of thinking for at least 1 hour before bed. These activities can keep your brain wired which affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try reading a book or quietly talking to a loved one instead.
4. Avoid eating, drinking and working out within 2 hours of bedtime and caffeine within 8 hours of bedtime. These things can cause interruptions in sleep which disrupts the healing and recovery process.