The National Sleep Foundation states that “sleep is essential to helping maintain mood, memory, and cognitive performance.” Even with this, so many of us still undervalue sleep. Sleep always ends up as something you squeeze in if you have time at the end of a busy night, working a double shift, or trying to put your family’s needs before your own. Sleep is not only the time in which you are able to rest, but it is the time that your body physically needs to restore itself and recharge for the next day.
Circadian Rhythm of the Night
Sleep cycles are tricky. Typically, during the week we have a regular schedule, but then on the weekends… all of that hard work that our bodies put into regulating our sleeping patterns gets thrown off.
As mentioned in our previous article, “How to Increase Natural Melatonin Production,” our bodies are controlled by our circadian clocks. Simply put, the circadian clocks are our bodies’ biological clocks telling us that daytime is the time to be awake and nighttime is for sleeping. According to The National Sleep Foundation, in addition to the circadian clock, our bodies’ sleep patterns are also regulated by our sleep/wake homeostasis. This system’s job is to maintain the balance between hours spent awake and hours spent asleep.
We are best rested when our sleep schedules are “regularly synchronized” to our internal body systems that control our sleep patterns. This means that going to bed and waking up at about the same hour daily (even on the weekends) could benefit in the long run.
To Nap or Not to Nap
Napping or staying up late can lead to a dent in your sleep cycle later on. Losing hours of sleep will result in an imbalance. In order to rebalance the scale, the lost hours must be slept.
Everyone has woken up from a nap (intentional or not) and had that moment of confusion – Did I sleep through the night? Where is everyone? Am I late? And then you realize… I was only asleep for five minutes. Naps often leave us feeling confused and more tired than we were before. We’re better off trying to get that little extra bit of sleep as a part of the night before.
- Try to get a full night’s sleep (at night)!
- Go to bed and wake up close to the same times every day
- Avoid naps by getting all of your sleep at night