Even though I haven't been 100%, I made huge commitment in 2020 to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. However, we don't only need adequate sleep, we need quality sleep.
What is quality sleep? Our bodies naturally regenerate during certain hours of the night because our bodies evolved to rest when daylight ran out. Without light, it was our natural time to lay down and stop being productive. This was before the days of shift work and other evening obligations modern humans face.
With the constant barrage of screens in our environment, getting to bed when it's dark is more challenging than ever.
I am guilty of letting technology push my bedtime late. Often, I decide to stay up past midnight to meet a deadline, but it's crucial to get to sleep well before 11 PM in order to get true, quality sleep.
One of the great, late thinkers in functional health, Andreas Moritz, wrote this article about sleep that explains how sleep timing is just as important as sleep duration:
TWO HOURS OF GOOD SLEEP BEFORE TWELVE O’CLOCK IS WORTH MORE THAN FOUR HOURS AFTER TWELVE O’CLOCK , excerpted from Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation by Andreas Moritz
10 PM to 2 AM . This is a crucial period of time during which most of the body's energy is used for CLEANSING, REBUILDING AND REJUVENATING the body. The liver receives most of the energy and conducts an astonishing range of activities. These include the supply of vital nutrients to all parts of the body, breaking down of noxious substances and keeping the blood clean. In addition, the liver cells produce bile at this time, which is needed to digest food, particularly fats, during the following day. Another important function of the liver during this time is to synthesize proteins, which serve as the main building blocks of cells, hormones and blood constituents.
The liver requires all the energy it can get to fulfill these and many other responsibilities. This can only happen sufficiently if you SLEEP between the hours of 10 and 2. If you use up the nighttime energy for eating or for mental and physical activities, the liver is left with too little energy to do its extremely vital work. The kidneys also need energy during this time period to filter the blood plasma, and keep the body fluids balanced and blood pressure normal.
Although the brain makes up merely 2 % of our body mass, it normally contains more than 25 % of the body's entire BLOOD SUPPLY.
However, during this phase, 10PM to 2AM, much of the blood moves from the back of the brain to the liver, to give it what it needs for purification tasks. If you are mentally or physically active at this time, the liver doesn't receive enough blood to work with, so it can't cleanse the blood sufficiently.
This results in the accumulation of toxic material in the blood stream. If toxins keep circulating in the blood, they will settle in the interstitial fuild (connective tissues) of organs and systems, thereby rasising acidity and damaging them, including the liver itself. High blood toxicity can and does lead to secretions of stress hormones, brain fog, and injured capillaries, arteries and heart muscles. Most heart disease is the result of a poorly performing liver that is unable to remove all toxic, noxious substances from the blood on a daily basis. If we do not give the liver the energy it needs to conduct the most basic physiological activities, we sow the seeds of illness throught the body.
For adults, the most important process of cleansing and renewal occur during the 2 hours of sleep before midnight. During this period, you enter a dreamless state of sleep where oxygen consumption decreases considerably, which results in profound rest and relaxation. The benefit to your body of this single hour of deep sleep is approximately equivalent to that derived during the three or four hours after midnight, when the oxygen consumption rises again.
Doctors at the University of California at San Diego have found that losing a few hours of sleep not only makes you feel tired, but also can affect the immune system, possibly impairing the body's ability to fight infections.
Commit to sleeping when your body needs it
If you have been a night owl for a long time, pushing your bedtime to 10 PM won't happen instantly. I recommend pushing your bed time 15 minutes earlier than it is now and trying that for several days. Then you can push your bedtime another 15 minutes earlier and adjusting until you get comfortable falling asleep by 10 PM.
What are you biggest obstacles to going to bed on time? Leave us a comment below!