Sleep and the brain and body
- Published on :03/05/2019
Unless we live in the woods, grow our own food, use only clean cosmetics, we are most likely a part of the population that lives in a highly toxic world. Not only do we get exposed to polluted air, but we also often choose to eat foods that have various additives. Think of all those long names on food labels that do not sound anything edible.
But what role does sleep play in all this? One following quote by the legendary sleep researcher Dr Allan Rechtschaffen well captures the essence and the vastness of roles that sleep plays in our lives.
“If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made.”
I have also recently heard a very good comparison of sleep and a backyard lawn (can’t remember which podcast it was) which very well illustrates what happens to our body when we don’t give it time to rest. Imagine that you have a lawn in your backyard that is fresh, soft and green. You like to play football and you love to do it on your soft beautiful lawn. You know that for it to stay like this you need to take breaks after each game and let it regrow. If you play on it non-stop, it will soon turn into mud. The same illustration can be applied to our bodies and toxic load. If you only feed your body with foods, toxins all day long and never give it time to rest, how long will it stay young and healthy before it hits some sort of illness?
Sleep is our ‘natural brake’ that starts slowing us down every day sooner or later after the sun goes down. It is calling us to rest and let our body switch on the cleansing mode.
When we sleep our body is in a full repair mode
Photo credit: Madi Bazzocco
We have access to food 24/7 and many of us eat for the longer part of the day. Every time we put food in our stomach, little pieces of it go through our fragile ‘internal world’ and are causing some damage as well as good, of course. Think of it as scratching the walls of our stomach and intestine. To heel all this ‘scratching’, to repair all other possible diet effects body needs time. It cannot digest, absorb and metabolise food optimally and do repair work at the same time. It can only be achieved when we’re in ‘starvation mode’, and most of us only experience it when we sleep. In simple terms, sleep is the time when the body does its self repair work.
Matt Walker, who is one of the leading sleep scientists in the world, suggests: ‘There is no tissue within the body and no process within the brain that is not enhanced by sleep, or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough.’
Brain can get properly cleaned only when we are asleep
Photo credit: Luana Berti
Our body has a drainage system that is called the lymphatic system. It plays an important role in detoxification, helping to move toxins out of the body. Brain has a similar waste clearance system and it’s called a glymphatic system. Referring to Prof. Walker’s interview with Independent.ie, ‘it’s only when we go into deep sleep, the brain kicks that sewage system into high gear and it cleanses the brain of all of the metabolic detritus that has been building up during the day’. Yes, you’ve read it right and the summary is pretty simple. If we don’t get enough and high quality sleep, toxins start to accumulate. This, according to the latest sleep research of the last decade, can cause cognitive decline and serious conditions like Alzheimer's.
Set up the right environment to reap most of detox benefits
To enhance your sleep and therefore detoxification it’s recommended that you sleep in a cooler temperature around 17C/65F. Also make sure that your bedding is made out of clean fabrics. When you sleep, you are fully covered by fabric and, if it contains chemicals, those molecules can easily penetrate your skin and enter into circulation of the blood in your body. When we were creating our bedding at bedroommood, it was our number one priority to make sure we feel safe that our bedding creates a safe sleep environment for everyone, including our own children and contributes to their health in the long-term.