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Want to the know my tried and true trick for health, lots of energy, maintaining my weight and overall feeling GREAT? SLEEP! I go to bed at 9pm, rise around 6ish – sleep soundlessly for 8.5-9 hours a night. (unless I have book club and drink too much wine!)

Sleep is an active physiological process, one in which your body is busy carrying out vital activities, while you are unconscious. While asleep your body alternates between two forms of sleep: rapid eye movement, or REM, and non-REM sleep. This cycle repeats several times throughout the night. While REM sleep provides the energy to the brain that supports it during waking hours and is necessary for restoring the mind, stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep, known as slow-wave or deep sleep, are essential for restoring the body.

During the physically restorative phases of non-REM deep sleep, your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Your brain is resting with very little activity, so the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients which facilitate their healing and growth. Muscles and tissues are rejuvenated and new cells are regenerated during this phase of sleep.

As your body enters into the non-REM deep sleep stage, your pituitary gland releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Lack of sleep and changes in sleep quality cause a sharp decline in growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle mass and reduced exercise capacity.

Going to bed early can help with WEIGHT LOSS! Lack of sleep causes ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” to increase. It also causes leptin, the “stop eating hormone”, to decrease. Increased ghrelin coupled with decreased leptin leads to weight gain. So getting to bed earlier increases the chance that you will get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, which you need to keep ghrelin and leptin at healthy levels.

Did you know that the hours you get before midnight, are better for you than the wee hours? Much more repairing to your brain and body cells, that every 1 hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth 3 times as much.

Your circadian rhythm helps you set your internal alarm clock. It controls your sleep/wake schedule. You can reset your sleep schedule: it’s like anything else, takes a little bit of discipline (shut off the neflix and the phone) but is totally doable. The sun helps guide your sleep/wake cycle. Sleeping before midnight and waking up with the sunrise is a more natural sleep/wake cycle.

Going to bed before midnight gives you a better quality of sleep. If you force yourself to stay awake to get things done, you push yourself past the point of sleepiness. When you do this it is a lot harder to fall asleep and the sleep you get is not as restful through the night. It’s like a little kid who won’t go down for their nap, they end up having a tantrum because they’ve passed the point of no return!

SLEEP is so important. It is the time when your body recovers and repairs. Your muscles require additional sleep and recovery time after illness, injury and surgery. This means if you are rehabbing an injury, you should consider that your body needs an extra amount of sleep to heal. In addition, muscular recovery is required after intense exercise, particularly strength and endurance training, in which the muscles have been torn down to some degree.

Best part of going to sleep early, is that there is no SNOOZE button to hit in the morning. You'll wake up naturally to the birds chirping!

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