Boost Your Brain – Sleep and Power Naps

Boost Your Brain – Sleep and Power Naps

Sleep

Something we cannot live without. It’s a huge part of our life, and it would only be a surprise if it also wasn’t affecting us to a high degree. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the studies that has been done, links are going to be below the article, as well as some of the ways you could improve your sleep. How does sleep and sleep deprivation affect your health. What’s the best way to wake up and so on.  Links to the studies below the article as always.

Dr. Kirk Parsley – “Everytime I thought I have had my last surprise about how important sleep is, I learned something new and I am just like holy smokes. Like you know, this is the world’s perfect drug”

Sleep is affecting almost every aspect of our lives. I will start with something not many people know and realise. Lack of sleep makes you crave food more in the morning or during the day.

Ghrelin – “Hunger Hormone”

A hormone which is causing you crave food. It’s formed in a stomach. Interestingly, it’s the only (that we know of) hormone which is causing actually crave the food more. There are several proteins and hormones which just sensor satiety and so on, but this one’s special. Poor sleep causes to release more of this hormone.

Leptin

That’s a name of a protein, which is secreted by our fat cells, travels through the blood to the brain and tells hippocampus “Alright, this guy’s fat enough, stop eating.”. It’s a way of body communicating with a brain that it has enough of stored fat and is satiated. Then you are not hungry anymore until the levels of leptin decrease again over time. The thing is, the negative feedback loop could get distracted, and that’s precisely what lack of sleep does! There is less leptin in your body and less secretion of it, so you need more food to feel satiated and store extra fat. An article in magazine Nature showed similar effect but of sugar! There are more functions of leptin, so it’s not only that but your body is just going to be disrupted overall.

Dan Pardi, PhD – “81 out of 89 studies that looked for association between sleep loss and weight gain had a positive finding”

There was a 55% risk increase in obesity if you are getting less than 6 hours of sleep a day. It all make sense when we look at the Ghrelin and Leptin. By getting poor sleep or not sleeping at all you are hungrier and going to have less energy.

Inflammation

For me, this is a huge factor in a lot of aspects. I wrote an article about it and how to reduce it here. It has so many benefits to lower your inflammation. It is considered one of the drivers of aging. We have generally more inflammation in our bodies than it would be “healthy”, as inflammation is necessary to some extent. Though in our society, there are many factors that cause overly increased inflammation, such as refined sugars, added to almost everything and lack of sleep!

Amyloid Beta Plaque

That’s something you don’t want in your brain. It’s a plague over your neurons which is decreasing it’s signalling sensitivity and “conductivity” between them. Amyloid Beta plaque is likely to be involved in Alzheimer’s and general neurodegeneration, which then could lead to other neurodegenerative diseases. What deeper stages of sleep do, is that it expands a space between the neurons. Then there is enough space for cerebral spinal fluid to clean the amyloid beta plaque (not only, all sorts of damaging chemicals too) allowing your neurons to “breath” and function normally. It’s considered as one of the reason why we need sleep. Crazy is that if you get poor sleep often, there is a feedback loop. This feedback loop works like this: The amyloid beta plaque is going to build up and then actually cause you not getting that deep sleep you want and need! Motherfucker.

Loss of Sleep

There was a study showing that one sleepless night resulted in healthy adults being in pre-diabetic condition. How can they say if you are pre-diabetic? They take your blood and measure blood glucose, leptin, ghrelin levels and more.

As you might know already, cognitive impairment is one of the side effects too, but what you might not know is that after 1 day of not sleeping at all, you aren’t going to feel any worse or more tired if you continue not sleeping. Although your cognitive functions are going to decline further, you are likely not going to be aware of that anymore. That’s a pretty scary thing, you think you can do something, but actually you are not able to. How did they come up with that? There have been many studies done in the military environment where this kind of condition is likely to happen.

Positive side of things

Fortunately, there are also many benefits to good quality sleep! So, basically it counters all the negative stuff. You going to lower your inflammation, improve your memory, because deep sleep helps with transition between short and long-term memory. Your memories from the day are basically repeating and the one which got strong chemical response are going to be strongest. The stronger you sleep, the better memory you are going to develop. That’s all great, but what if I can’t sleep or have really poor sleeping?

How to improve sleep?

If you are not sleeping well, you probably know a lot of stuff already. I am just going to tell you what I think are the most unknown ones and the ones everyone should do. Many things could be done to improve your sleep and it’s so simple!

  • Get rid of as much artificial light as possible. That light, causes releasing not as much melatonin, chemical which makes you sleepy and improves falling asleep (deeper sleep too). I can only recommend application called “f.lux”. As sun goes down, f.lux will simply turn off blue colour on your computer, your secretion of melatonin isn’t going to get as disrupted as it would otherwise. It’s because there is going to be lower light and we were releasing melatonin when the sun went down, therefore there were red and yellow colours, not the blue one.
  • Go to sleep when you feel tired! Yeah, it’s that simple. There is a high probability that you are going to be tired earlier, thanks to f.lux or no artificial light. That’s awesome! If you are going to go sleep earlier, you are more likely not having to wake up on an alarm clock, which isn’t healthy and that leads me to the next point.
  • Try to wake up naturally, set a time in your head on which you would like to wake up. I know it sounds weird, but it does work for me after some period of time (took me like 2 days or so). Why wake up naturally? It has many benefits. You are probably aware of sleep cycles, well, if you are going to wake up during the middle of the deep sleep phase, you are likely not going to feel super fucking amazing (and you are super fucking amazing, so it would be a shame). When you wake up naturally, it’s going to be in a phase of light sleep, which sets your day on a right note!
  • Don’t eat 2 hours before sleep! That’s actually a huge one and recent study found that late night or evening eating is associated with increased body fat. You can also check my article on different types of fasts including time restricted eating, which I think everyone should do!

 

Power Naps

You might have thought as I did, that naps aren’t much of a benefit. But the opposite is true! Naps are great for you, especially in early afternoon hours after food ingestion. Firstly, you are going to let your body digest the food. If you are lying down, the stomach has more blood available, therefore digestion is improved. Secondly, these naps, anything between 15-90 minutes do increase your cognitive function and alertness! That’s right, who would have thought. Naps between 15 to 30 minutes are the best for instant benefits. Any longer naps especially an hour +, are going to take some time for you to adjust after waking up. Though it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, it’s good to be aware of that.

That is all from me for today. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this article and are going to sleep well! Wish you only the best! If you want to help me with this blog, check out this page here.


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