Sleep is important for a strong immune system, and a lack of quality sleep can have devastating effects on health.
Did you know for example that it is not possible to ‘catch-up’ on sleep? That the adverse effects of a lack of sleep is a debt that builds up? My mother used to say that an hour of sleep before midnight was worth two afterwards, and she may have a had a point!
Together with nutrition and exercise, sleep is one of the central components of health. Whilst we sleep our body goes into repair and replace mode, for example eliminating waste products from the joints and balancing the immune system responses for greater accuracy in responding to an infectious invader.
A lack of sleep leads to mental and physical fatigue. There is mental confusion because the cells in the brain haven’t been able to rebalance while the body is resting. There is also a susceptibility to infections, as the immune system has been weakened.
There are glands in the brain that control the sleep cycle. Particular repairs and rebalancing of the chemistry of the cells only take place when certain hormones in the brain have shut down the rest of the body, in effect paralysing the muscles.
There is a cycle to sleep and a couple of master hormones that control it. Melatonin gets you into sleep itself, whilst serotonin wakes you up. Serotonin is stimulated by light on the skin.
There are several key nutrients that are important for sleep, including daily B Vitamins, amino acids, and a balanced intake of minerals, including trace minerals. Selenium, magnesium and calcium are often recommended as well as essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6 for building hormones.
Redox signalling molecules are important to the central nervous system and brain. In effect they choreograph both our sleep patterns and the way messages are communicated between nerve cells. To function efficiently this system requires a correct balance of redox signalling molecules in all the fluids in the cells of the body. For example when we are busy or worrying there is an increase in neural activity which stresses the brain cells leading to oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. This another reason why quality sleep is so important to keep us healthy and mentally focussed.
Redox signalling molecules are no more than 4 atoms in size and so a supplement of them is able to penetrate the blood/brain barrier and get into all the fluids in the body, keeping the choreography of the messages working optimally within and between the cells. The absence of a proper balance of redox signalling molecules within our brain tissue means that messages are lost, connections aren’t made, quality sleep is not achieved and thinking becomes sluggish.
Keys to quality sleep
• Good nutrition, especially essential fats, minerals and vitamin B complex
• Good water hydration
• Limited light in the room
• Avoidance of stimulants such as caffeine and energy drinks
• A good supply of redox signalling molecules
If achieving sleep is difficult then a good tip is to focus on relaxing the area at the back of the neck and head. When this area is fully relaxed the rest of the body usually follows.