The Joint Ventures' Blog

The Importance of Sleep and Darkness

Thursday, April 05, 2012

One of the biggest challenges I commonly find with clients is sleeping. A lot of people (maybe even you?) have trouble falling and staying asleep.  Not getting a good night's sleep is very stressful to the body and can have major implications on your overall health, including your ability to lose fat, and can cause joint and muscle pain to name a few. 

When you don't get enough sleep, not only is your body not able to fully repair itself from the stress of daily life, but also simply being awake when it’s dark out is very stressful to your body.  Our bodies, when working properly, counteract the effects of being in the dark by sleeping.

I suspect that nocturnal sleep has the special function of minimizing the stress of darkness itself, and that it has subsidiary functions, including its now well confirmed role in the consolidation and organization of memory. This view of sleep is consistent with observations that disturbed sleep is associated with obesity, and that torpor-hibernation (Torpor is the opposite of restful sleep) can powerfully interfere with learning.

Babies spend most of their time sleeping.  During our life cycle, the amount of time spent sleeping decreases, with nightly sleeping time decreasing by about half an hour per decade after middle age. Babies have an extremely high metabolic rate and a stable temperature. With age the metabolic rate progressively declines, and as a result, the ability to maintain an adequate body temperature tends to decrease with aging. 
The simple fact that body temperature regulates all organic functions, including brain waves, is habitually overlooked. 

So here are 7 things that darkness does to your body:

1. The parts of our cells (Mitochondria) that make energy and hormones shrivel up and can’t work efficiently.

2. Energy and good hormone production slows down.

3. The stress hormones in particular adrenaline and cortisol increase.

4. Blood thickens.

5. Water enters the cells and slows down energy production, which can cause swelling in the morning.

6. Stress hormones cause histamine (a chemical/neurotransmitter, your body produces when you're having an allergic reaction) to be secreted, which activates your bladder.

7. Adrenaline can cause nightmares.

If you have any questions about darkness or sleep and it's effect on your body, your workouts or your ability to lose weight, contact Joint Ventures' Personal Trainer Keith Colby at keith@jointventurespt.com.

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