The Benefits of Sleep
The science of sleep has revealed that stacking Z’s is much more important to our physical and mental health than previously thought. There are many physiological processes that take place only while we are sleeping, and during specific stages of sleep. For our bodies to function at their maximum levels, we have to enter the realm of The Sandman.
While we are sawing logs, our body is storing our day’s experiences into our long-term memory, repairing damaged tissues, regulating our hormones, adjusting our insulin levels, and cleaning out garbage and toxins that are built up in our cells as they do the business of running our bodies.
Setting the Stage for Sleep
Our sleep schedule was developed over millenia as our ancestors followed the rising and setting of the sun. When the sun was up, they awoke and got busy with the day’s work. When the sun set, they finished the day’s work and got ready for slumber. In modern times, we have altered the sleep schedule by controlling our environments with artificial light, temperature control, and our daily habits. Studies show that the optimal sleep time is 7 hours, and we need to take steps to ensure it is quality sleep.
Tips for Prime Sleepy Time
Turn off your devices.
Our bodies need almost total darkness to get quality sleep, otherwise the light is transmitted to our brain and disrupts the signal to enter sleep mode. If you can see your hand in front of our face, it’s time to cut out the night lights. Also, lying in bed with a phone or tablet inches from your face stimulates your brain and indicates it is still day time. Go off the grid 30-60 minutes before your desired sleep hour.
Play it cool.
The desired room temperature is between 60-70 degrees. Turning the temp down a few degrees at night tells your body it is time to snooze. Don’t overdo it on heavy covers and night clothing.
No caffeine after lunch.
Caffeine has a long half-life, and traces of it remain in your system up to 12 hours of ingestion. Drinking coffee and caffeinated soft drinks, and even eating chocolate in the afternoon can disrupt sleep.
Skip the nightcap.
While alcohol can initially make you drowsy, it interrupts sleep hours later as your body metabolizes the sugars in alcohol. This can prevent you from entering the deep sleep states needed for tissue repair and hormone regulation.
Relax, relate, release.
If you have “monkey mind” and can’t stop thinking about the past and future, practice some meditation at bedtime. There are many apps that can guide you through this. Also, search “Theta Waves” on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music. There are many brain wave, sleep-inducing pieces that can provide some background noise that is ideal for snoozing.
So, Why is a Dentist Talking About Sleep?
Through my own personal journey with sleep apnea, I became educated in the subject of sleep. Proper sleep is a fundamental part of overall health, and dentists can provide a great service to their patients who suffer from sleep apnea by fabricating oral appliances to maintain an open airway during sleep. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea: snoring, loss of breath during sleep, and daytime fatigue, we may be able to help. Contact our Waynesville dentist office for a complimentary airway assessment to see if you may be a candidate for an oral sleep appliance. We look forward to helping you improve your health!
Dr. Michael Gillespie is celebrating 25 years as a Waynesville dentist! The award-winning team provides a wide range of modern dental services including dental implants, orthodontics, CEREC same-visit crowns, oral sleep apnea devices, as well as routine dental cleanings and traditional dentistry.
Serving Waynesville, Asheville, Sylva, Bryson City, Franklin, and all areas of Western North Carolina.