What Makes Us Sleep?

April 12, 2018

 

Time to read: 2 mins 

 

It seems to be a feature of adulthood that we constantly complain to others how tired we are. You hear it at work, gym, dinners… everywhere. It seems that we never get sleep right - partying as teenagers, long work hours as you start off your career then just as you seem to be comfortable in your career and hours reduce, kids come into the frame! Always seems to be something getting in the way of our sleep patterns.  

 

 

Circadian Rhythm 

 

Most of us have heard this term before. It basically is a 24 hour body cycle, which is controlled by two processes. 

 

The first process is a compound called adenosine, which pushes our drive to sleep. As levels of this hormone rise, we feel more sleepy, and levels usually reach a high by evening time which is why we feel tired and usually go to bed at this point.  

 

The second process is commonly called our internal body clock, which takes it triggers from environmental factors. Light signals are sent to the brain via our eyes, which cues our brain that it is daytime. As evening comes and light decreases, this cues our brain that sleep is near, leading to feelings of drowsiness.

 

This drowsiness is caused by melatonin release, which is signalled from the brain when light decreases. Melatonin in our bloodstream peaks as the evening progresses and light becomes less. This is an important factor in helping us fall asleep. 

 

  

 

In our busy daily lives, technology now plays a pivotal role in both home and work environments. This use of technology can disrupt our circadian rhythms, as we are frequently exposed to strong artificial lights, either from screens or overhead lighting. 

 

 

To minimise this disruption, experts recommend: 

 

- reducing screen time of an evening,

- keeping room lighting dim, 

- and keeping the environment relaxing.  

 

This should aid our bodies natural cycle and allow us to fall asleep in the evening without too much issue.

 

 

As the sun rises in the morning, our body releases cortisol. This helps our body to wake up and get going for the day. Again, natural light is important in this process for our bodies to receive the correct triggers. 

 

 

Sleep has been shown to be of benefit for many systems of the body - including healthy metabolism, heart and brain health. By understand what makes us sleep, we can ensure we are supporting this process in the above mentioned ways to allow us to get the maximum amount of health restoring sleep as possible.

 

So try stepping away from the artificial lights as much as you can, getting outside and taking your cues from nature and allowing your body to respond to the rising and setting of the sun.

 

Happy sleeping all!

 

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