Sleep….then Move

Coffe break

Image by Francisco Javier Argel via Flickr

There are three major ways in which we can affect our bodies to a degree that is noticeable immediately; exercise, food and sleep. The first two are fairly obvious. If we run a marathon, we become tired. If we overindulge, we become lethargic. If we don’t get enough sleep, we drink a coffee and everything is all good…at least until 2pm. We are a people who don’t generally place enough value on getting a normal amount of sleep.
Let us define normal sleep. Some experts have prescribed a sliding scale based on age. I personally subscribe to the Ayurvedic definition of normal sleep. Sleep should take place between the hours of 10pm to 6am. During these hours our bodies slow down so that healing and regeneration can take place. From 10pm to 2am, the physical body is metabolizing, replenishing and repairing cells and tissues. From 2am to 6am the mind is digesting the days thoughts and emotions while restoring and preparing for the next day. This is why when you stay up too late, feel lethargic during the next day when you don’t sleep well in the early morning you wake up foggy in the brain.
The reasons we take sleep for granted are as subjective as shoe size however it is my opinion that one common factor comes in to play when we decide to sty up and make a dent in that DVR library at 10pm. The consequences of abnormal sleep are more subtle than the consequences of over-eating or over-exerting oneself. We are opportunistic beings from our brains all the way down to our mitochondria. We will prioritize our actions by weighing the pros and cons. If we can stay up a little later and finish that report that we could have started earlier, it may mean a promotion and a nicer car in due time. A mentor of mine, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar often says, “We first spend our health on our wealth and then spend our wealth on our health”. Eight years in the pharmacy biz has made this abundantly clear to me.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies make sacrifices in other areas. This is the noticeable change in the way we feel that I was talking about in the first few lines of this post. Consider this; nothing in our bodies is not constantly breaking down and being replenished. We “use up” a certain number of cells everyday in order to carry out the most basic functions. The body can not heal if it does not rest properly. Normal sleep is vitally important and necessary just to maintain the status quo. If anybody wanted to make any sort of improvement or change to their bodies, they would have to at least get normal sleep on a regular basis.

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