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Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep…Hopefully!

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.  Seriously, if I should die in my sleep?  What a distressing thought, even for a praying woman like me!  Of course, if you know me well, you know that I plan to live to be 100 years old, so I might start praying this prayer when I am 99.

Nighty-night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. Thoughts of bedbugs, or bugs of any kind for that matter, being in your bed while you sleep is a very comforting message to calm your mind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep, wouldn’t you say?  How about this well-known bedtime rhyme?

I used to say to my sons, “Sweet Dreams” or “Sleep Sweet!” Now that rhymes and is a nice thought to drift off to 6-8 hours of our body’s built-in restorative body and mind sleep.

How to get better, healthier, restorative sleep, and are you getting enough shut-eye? Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night, according to most studies, yet many of us are so busy in our everyday lives that something has to give, and we often give up on sleep rather than something else. Even if we “try” to go to sleep.  Cool ROOM, comfortable BED, Soft PILLOW, and sweet DREAMS as a good night wish, it just might not be enough to make it happen.  We can physically get into bed, and physically close our eyes, but that doesn’t mean we will sleep, or sleep well.

Circadian Rhythm

Our 24-hour internal body clock is running in the background of your brain, and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It is affected by the light and dark and is and is also known as your sleep/wake cycle.  It is controlled by the hypothalamus in your brain, which tells your body to release melatonin – the sleep hormone – for the sleep cycle to begin.  The older we get, the more quality sleep we need.  Our body’s natural production of Melatonin decreases as we age, but it can be reduced by other things as well.

You can use supplementation to increase melatonin production, and of course, there are medications that you can take to force your body to sleep, but the more you depend on these to address the body’s natural abilities, the more of them you will need over time, and the less your body will do on its own.

Your best (high quality) sleep is from 2am – 4am, likely your best chance for deep, restorative sleep.                  Your worst (low quality) awake hours 1pm – 3pm, likely when your energy dips, and you feel a need for a nap.  In some cultures, this is when shops close and many people actually do, rest.

Sleep is a reboot for the body and the brain.  It is the time when every system has a chance to relax and repair itself.

Inadequate sleep:

  • amps up the inflammatory system
  • causes you to store excess body fat
  • increase your chances of getting sick
  • Leads to anxiety and stress

Sleep is when the Body and Mind are at rest, usually each night, the nervous system is relatively inactive, the postural muscles are relaxed – the muscles that work to maintain the stability of the musculoskeletal system (aka the anti-gravity muscles) used during normal activity, are not used, and consciousness is practically suspended. Feeling sleepy yet?

SLEEP IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN MIND AND BODY, but sadly, our brain seems to have a mind of its own! The partnership of allowing sleep and managing anxiety is only as good as the brain’s cooperation in the partnership.

Our brain is a busy organ and it does not rest much!  It is always on sentry duty.  A sentry is a soldier stationed to keep guard or control access to a place.

Our brain is command central!  You’ve heard the saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  Well, think of your brain as “the mama” of the house (your body).  We love and appreciate its vast abilities.  It makes it possible for us to be aware of the world around us, experience life, think – conscious and unconscious thoughts, and acknowledge feelings.  It is responsible for our intellect, creativity, calculation, and the ever-important function of memory.

How you care for your body and brain throughout the day influences how well your body and brain sleep at night. Let’s take a look at that in Part 2 of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.