The Science of Sleep

Our circadian rhythm has been an important part of our evolution story. It essentially programs us to sleep at certain times. Only when we cooperate with these “sleep windows” can we reap all the rewards of sleep.

The Sleep/Wake Continuum
Our circadian rhythm regulates many aspects of physiology, among them are our sleep/wake cycles. In fact, it’s always busy either generating sleep or generating wakefulness. This process evolved to synchronize with the rising and setting of the sun. The light we perceive through our eyes resets our internal clock everyday.

The Brain’s Process
The process of sleep is complex, involving multiple regions of the brain and a network of neurons. At regular times, the wake-generating systems make way for the sleep-generating systems. Body temperature lowers and melatonin, the sleep hormone, is released. The brain is preparing the body for sleep.

The Rewards
Sleep strengthens the immune system, promotes tissue and bone repair, and regulates mood and emotions.

When we catch the early sleep window, we get more of the restorative deep sleep. It’s during this deep sleep when most of the growth hormone is released. (see Early Bedtime Appreciation)

When we have long and consolidated night sleep, our brains will properly cycle through the sleep stages. Research has shown that this provides better information processing. The sleeping brain is actively organizing the new information learned when awake, and lays down pathways for memory storage. So let’s get with the program.

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