The Essential Guide to Sleep: 6 Key Benefits and How to Get It Right

December 30, 2023 8 mins to read
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“Early to bed and early to rise” isn’t just an old saying…it’s got science to back it up! The ancient Chinese believed in aligning activities with the sun’s rhythms ancient wisdom, outlined in ancient Chinese texts like “The Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine”. Today’s modern science has finally validated this ancient wisdom, winning 3 Americans the 2017 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine; proving again modern science isn’t always leading the way. In this article I go over 6 key benefits to a quality sleep and some sleep hygiene tips, to get a restful nights sleep!

The Meridian System: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) introduces us to the concept of the ‘meridian system’, which it states is essential for transporting “qi” and “blood” – vital life forces. These meridians are most active at certain times, making specific hours optimal for different activities, including sleep. For example, the 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. window is crucial for the gallbladder and liver, emphasizing the importance of timely rest. Now that I think of it when I was having gallbladder issues I wasn’t going to bed until 3am…kinda makes me wonder…

6 Sleep Health Benefits

Weight Loss | Sleep Health Benefits

Proper sleep affects hormones like human growth hormone HGH (active between 10:00 p.m. and 2 a.m.) and cortisol (secreted between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.), which play roles in fat breakdown & weight management. This is verified by research in JAMA Internal Medicine, which linked longer sleep to reduced calorie intake and potential long-term weight loss.

Longevity | Sleep Health Benefits

Research shows consistent quality sleep contributes to a longer life, by allowing organs to rest and function optimally while also reducing stress. During sleep your body does much of it’s repair and detox…. clearing our waste from the the brain an cells, rebuilding muscle, consolidating memory, and more! Sleep truly is the foundation of good health!

Mood Enhancement | Sleep Health Benefits

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) links good sleep to liver health, which governs emotions. Modern science agrees that a deep restful sleep may improve mood, as long the body can reach those deeper stages of sleep later in the sleep cycle. Inversely research has shown that sleep deprivation can lead to a negative emotional state. There is a complex physiological cascade of health effects from sleep deprivation that can increase inflammation and oxidative stress which can negatively affect mood.

Cognitive Clarity | Sleep Health Benefits

Studies show that quality sleep aids in memory consolidation or stabilization and over-all cognitive function – crucial for slowing cognitive decline and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Disease Prevention | Sleep Health Benefits

Getting enough sleep bolsters the immune system in several ways: It enhances cytokine production, vital for combating infections and inflammation, improves T cell function crucial for targeting infected cells and reduces stress which can otherwise suppress immune responses. In short, getting adequate zZzZzZz optimizes the immune system’s ability to defend against disease and illness.

Skin Health | Sleep Health Benefits

When someone tells you to ‘get your beauty sleep” turns out they are right…sleep enhances skin health by boosting collagen repair and regulating stress hormones, which prevents premature aging. It also balances skin hydration, reducing under-eye circles and improving overall complexion, ultimately leading to a more youthful and vibrant appearance.

Sleep Hygiene for Quality Sleep: 4 Key Tips

Tech Timeout

Avoid phone screens before bed. The blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle and harm your eyes. The other option is to use Bluelight Blocking Glasses (find in my shop) or if you more the more extravagant (and expensive) option a Boox Mira Pro e-Ink computer monitor. But often just reading or writing before bed is a cheaper way to prevent this.

Consistent Schedule

Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, to synchronize with your biological clock. I find having a winddown routine like watching some Netflix with Blue-light blocking glasses on, reading a book or writing helped me immensely to establish a sleeping routine.

If you have struggled with sleep your whole life, it could be connected with your genes and related methylation difficulties (how your body processes certain nutrients)…consider getting a Methylation Panel (test) and book a video call with a nutrition professional for more help.

Mind Your Diet

Avoid big meals before bed and make supper your smallest meal. I’m a big fan of 2-meals a day or the OMAD (one meal a day) diet as well as 16-8 intermittent fasting (16hrs of fasting and 6-8 hr eating window), which better mimics how our ancestors ate, and gives the digestive tract a break to repair itself.

Also skip greasy or sugary foods before bed and opt for lighter options like warm milk to satisfy late-night hunger without disrupting sleep. My personal favorite is warm goats milk with a bit of magnesium before bed.

Sunlight (Vitamin D) and Supplements

In many places in Canada, US, Europe and around the world, we simply don’t get enough Sunlight and consequently Vitamin D; actually a hormone not a vitamin. Vitamin D is the only nutrient our bodies essentially produces on it’s own, emphasizing it’s importance to our health. Vitamin D helps balance our hormones, and plays a significant part in our sleep cycle. Always take Vitamin D with K2 to prevent arterial calcification; it helps route calcium into bones where it belongs, so it isn’t deposited in soft tissue. If it is the winter, cold outside and days or short, or you just don’t get into the sun much I highly recommend you supplement with Vitamin D3, but note that the RDA of vitamin D3 can be inadequate (and often is)…to get proper dosing for your unique health book a video call.

  • Magnesium is also known to help promote sleep
  • L-Theanine or GABA can help

I also list my favorite supplements in my Amazon Associate Influencer Store if you prefer to order from there.

A Balanced Approach to Sleep

While adequate sleep is essential, too much of it can be counterproductive, leading to issues like disrupted circadian rhythms and physical lethargy. That’s why it’s so valuable to have a set sleep schedule, with a winddown routine and then waking up at the relatively same time. I also believe in listening to the body, and if it needs more sleep sometimes that’s more important…however also being aware that constant fatigue, trouble sleeping, unusually long sleeps, or low quality sleep, etc…could be an indication that something is off with your health, whether that be a nutritional deficiency, hormonal imbalance or other underlying health issue. Book a video call if you want help getting your sleep sorted out naturally because it’s vital that you get your sleep sorted our if you have a chronic illness; it cold be a big part of what’s holding you back from getting better.

Final Thoughts | Conclusion

Embracing good sleep habits is the foundation of good health (really!). Sleep is probably the greatest hack for better memory and brain health, for helping the body to heal, recover and to improve health over-all. Yet in our modern society, we seem to largely neglect sleep and even idolize powering through poor sleep and fatigue. We take a range of supplements and medicines, medicate ourselves with caffeine through coffee and energy drinks or sugary treats and then wonder why our health fails us. I would say if anything is getting in the way of you getting a good nights sleep, remedy it as fast as possible; it’s crucial for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Remember, the secret to a healthier and happier life might just lie in your sleep!

References

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any health care agency or government entity in Canada or the United States.

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