Sleep is when growth and repair happens, so habits and behaviors that promote improvements in sleep quality and quantity have an outsized impact on brain fitness.
Sleep by Troscriptions
What is sleep?
Sleep is more than just the absence of wakefulness, it is rather an active, regulated, and distinct state that is fundamental for daytime functioning and overall health.
It is a state marked by drastic physiological changes, the most evident of which occur in the brain and central nervous system.
During sleep, we are in a state of altered consciousness and reduced muscle activity that is characterized by a diminished ability to react to our surrounding environment. Sleep is distinguished from a coma or state of disordered consciousness, however, as the brain is still in an ‘active’ state.
Sleep seems to be a feature of any organism with a neuronal/glial network, even including roundworms, fruit flies, and cuttlefish. Therefore, it can be said that sleep serves a function at even the very small network level (roundworms for example, only have 302 neurons!). It is a shared behavior that is conserved between a variety of organisms, including humans (obviously!).
Why is sleep so important?
When we sleep, we progress through several distinct phases. These comprise three stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and one stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It takes between 90 to 120 minutes to complete the full cycle, and the body does this around 4 – 6 times every night. All of the sleep stages are marked by differences in muscle tone, brain wave patterns, and eye movements.
One of the essential functions of sleep is to promote an anabolic state or an environment whereby systems are repaired and rebuilt. This process helps to revitalize the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. The glymphatic system of the brain is essential to these processes.
It is recommended that adults should strive for 7 or more hours of sleep per night on a regular basis for optimal health. Sleeping less than this amount for a prolonged duration is linked with adverse health outcomes such as weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, depression, and increased risk of death.
It is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain, impaired performance, an increased amount of errors in cognitive tasks, and a greater risk of accidents. Newer science is trying to determine whether it is the time in bed that’s important or how much of each stage of sleep you are getting...and no surprise, it’s likely the latter.
As Dr. Ted (Our Founder) likes to say, "Your mitochondria are the ‘batteries of your cells.”’ and as a result, they play a vitally important role in health, performance, and disease. Ensuring they are well looked after, and functioning optimally, should be a principal concern for all, even the non-sentient among us!
Each mitochondrion within the cell serves as a hub of aerobic respiration, the conversion of fats and carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency of life. This ATP is then distributed throughout the cell to be used in a diverse range of metabolic processes.
So how do we optimize these amazing organelles?
Light Exposure: Exposure to light in the infrared and the red spectra enhances mitochondrial function as well as energy production. Like chloroplasts in plants, which turn the sun’s rays into energy, mitochondria may be able to make energy directly from light due to photoreceptors located on complex IV of the electron transport chain.
Intermittent Fasting: The restriction of calories we consume from food stimulates a process called mitochondrial biogenesis (the building of more mitochondria within the cell). The scarcity of cellular energy causes the cell to kickstart mitochondrial biogenesis to ensure adequate energy production is maintained. This increases levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a central enzyme in metabolism, which leads to a rise in the production of ATP (the biological energy currency of life).
The use of intermittent fasting, or time-controlled fasting, is also known to prevent changes in mitochondria associated with age that can also be brought about by consuming a persistently high-fat diet (such as that typical in Western countries).
Sleep: Animal studies appear to support the involvement of mitochondria in sleep, via the expression of different genes and proteins, OXPHOS enzyme activity, and morphology changes. Human studies differ in that they show differences in OXPHOS enzyme activity and protein levels in sleep-deprived people or those suffering from insomnia.
Optimizing Sleep by humanOS
- The movement habits of great thinkers.