The Science of Sleep and How Making a Few Adjustments Can Help You Get More Rest
Each and every night, Americans struggle to get adequate sleep. In recent years, devices such as smart watches and corresponding apps have helped us to better track our sleep, giving us data and analytics to check our sleep patterns. However, even with these types of tools, quite literally at our fingertips, many of us still struggle to get proper rest. In fact, according to the CDC, a whopping 50% of Americans report that they feel sleepy or sluggish during the day, while 35.2% cite that they get less than seven hours of sleep each night. These stats are not good!
While sleep is a perfectly natural occurrence, that doesn’t mean it comes easy. There is actually quite a bit of science that goes into getting rest, including regulating your body’s circadian rhythm. Your brain has to know when and where to release certain hormones or enact certain functions. Let us explore this and really dig into the science behind sleep (and how taking a nootropic supplement can help!).
Sleep 101: The Neuroscience In a Nutshell
Have you ever heard of the hypothalamus? While it makes up a small portion of the forebrain, it actually shoulders a big task, as it is responsible for regulating various feelings and emotions. This includes activity, appetite, body temperature, thirst, sex drive, sleep, and so much more! To say that it has an important job is an understatement. Because sleep self-regulates on it’s own, that means we typically don’t have a lot of say in when we’re tired. We can, however, influence it to a certain degree by using a nootropic supplement as well as implementing some healthy habits.
It goes without saying that the longer we’ve been awake, the greater our need for sleep is. This is explained by the phenomena of ‘homeostatic sleep drive’ or ‘sleep load’. Most people tend to be awake 15-18 hours a day, depending on each individual. Despite our physiological need to rest, we are kept awake and alert by our circadian wake drive. That is what keeps us functioning until bedtime
Stress, however, throws a cog in the whole operation, greatly impacting the quality of our sleep. A few hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, all play a role in influencing our sleep. GABA signaling is also important, as it reduces neuronal excitation in the brain. This can help you to get better rest by decreasing stress and promoting an overall sense of calmness and relaxation.
The Role of Sleep
While we may think of sleep as something that is relatively easy to do (at least once we’re finally out), it is actually the time of day our brains really get to work. Unconsciously, our bodies undergo their nightly repair tasks: clean up, detoxification, recovery, and regeneration. It does all of this on top of dreaming and memory consolidation, each dependent on us getting standard, adequate sleep. Just like during the day, these efforts require cellular energy. However, these mitochondrial networks are often overlooked in terms of getting rest.
The primary role of the brain is to keep us safe. It is safe to say that this is quite a lot of work! That is why even when we’re sleeping, we are still attune to various sounds. When we’re sleeping in our bedrooms, we tend to feel more relaxed. But if we just moved somewhere new or are staying in a hotel room, our brains tend to be hyper aware of various noises, jarring us awake even at commonplace occurrences, such as a heater switching on or off.
When we are asleep, our body goes through a cycle. According to the Sleep Foundation, there are four stages of sleep:
Stage 1: Known as the ‘dozing off’ stage, it only lasts a few minutes and is the first of three stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM). The body hasn’t fully relaxed yet but brain activities are beginning to slow. Most people experience a bit of twitching as you begin to fall asleep.
Stage 2: The next stage of NREM lasts a bit longer, anywhere from 10 to 50 minutes. Body temperature begins to drop, as well as a slowed heart rate and breathing. Brain waves pick up a new pattern and eye movement stops. While the brain activity is overall slowed, there still might be ‘bursts’ that occur.
Stage 3: The final stage of NREM is also known as ‘deep sleep’. Muscle tone, breathing, and heart rate all decrease once more. Someone experiencing deep sleep is much more difficult to wake up than someone in the other stages.
- Stage 4: REM sleep occurs in stage four. This is the most restorative stage of sleep and is essential for various functions, such as learning, memory, and creativity. When we don’t get enough sleep in this cycle, we can notice a significant decrease in our ability to retain information.
Sleep Remedy: Make a Few Changes
As you can tell by what we’ve covered so far, sleep is instrumental to maintaining our overall health and well-being. If you’re looking to get better rest at night, there are a few habits you can adjust. Start off with some of these:
- Exercise Regularly: A workout routine will help the body release endorphins and hormones necessary to getting better rest. Plus, your muscles will be fatigued, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Cut Back on Caffeine: While caffeine is actually a nootropic, consuming it too close to bedtime will keep your brain wired and active. Try to drink water or herbal, sleep-inducing tea in the evening.
Take Melatonin and L-Theanine: Narcotic sleep aids are powerful but extremely addictive. You can build up a resistance to them over time, meaning you have to take more and more for it to do its job. Try taking melatonin instead! This and L-Theanine are all natural alternatives that can help you not only fall asleep, but stay asleep longer.
- STACKS Nootropics: As we talked about above, getting good rest relies on our body feeling tired and performing various functions throughout the day. It is very cyclic, meaning that what the body does during the day is reliant on what the body does at night, and vice versa. Treat your body well each morning by mixing up a packet of our nootropic supplement with a glass of water. This will help you to feel more energized and focused during the day, which will translate to a better night’s rest.
Sleep is very important and vital to maintaining proper functioning of our organs, and long-term sleep deprivation can be lethal. If you are one of the millions of Americans who struggle with getting adequate sleep, begin by implementing a few of these changes and see how it helps