29 Nov 2019
Sleep. After a long workday or hours spent in the sun, your bed is practically calling your name.
Sleep is crucially important for a broad range of health reasons. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety and depression, impaired immune function, weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease, infertility, and diabetes. Getting adequate beauty sleep is more than simply dozing off and waking up seven or eight hours later. Our bodies are hard at work washing our brains with cerebral spinal fluid allowing our neurons to communicate with each other and remove any toxins that our brain built up when we were awake.
Our body has two main processes that regulate our sleep: circadian rhythms and sleep drive. Our circadian rhythms are controlled by our exposure to light, hence why being on your phone or any screen late at night impairs your sleep ability. Sunrise and sunset are driving forces for our rhythms as our brain recognizes darkness with rest. If we obtain a poor quality sleep, our brain function is significantly impaired. With adequate high-quality sleep, our brain is able to adapt to various stimulants and respond appropriately to input. Think back to the last time you got a poor night's sleep, did every task feel harder to perform and at the end of the day you felt more mentally and emotionally drained? If we sleep for too few hours, our body is unable to process what we've learned throughout the day and we have trouble recalling the newly learned information in the future. High quality sleep gives our brain a "wash" at the end of a long day. When we are resting, our body has the opportunity to rid our brains of harmful toxins by washing it with cerebrospinal fluid to remove harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during the day.
What Happens When We Sleep?
Our body goes through a four-stage sleep cycle known as REM and Non-REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement (also known as REM sleep), is the final stage of sleep that we are looking to reach.
The first stage of sleep is the lightest of NREM sleep. Our eyes are moving slowly and we can easily be awoken due to changes in light, sound or temperature. Our brain begins to slow down and relax as we begin to produce alpha brain waves.
The second stage of sleep is when our body is less easily aroused by disturbances and our body temperature and heart rate begin to drop. Our brains shift into the beta wave creating stage our muscles experience periods of spontaneous muscle tone followed by periods of muscle relaxation.
The third stage of NREM sleep is also known as "slow-wave sleep." During this stage, our brain is experiencing slow delta brain waves that are interspersed with faster waves. Our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing continues to slow down as we transition into a deeper state of sleep. There is very little eye movement in this stage and it is harder to arise during this sleep stage. If one is woken during this stage, they commonly feel groggy, tired and disoriented for a number of minutes after waking.
The final stage is known as Rapid Eye Movement, the time in which our brain and bodies are paralyzed and we frequently experience dreams. This stage of sleep is typically the shortest of the four and occurs after passing through the previous three stages. This stage holds the highest importance as various brain regions are being stimulated during this cycle which attributes to improve learning abilities, improved mood and increased production of proteins.
How to Improve Your Sleep Patterns:
Now that we have learned about the benefits of REM sleep and why we need more of it, let's discuss simple habits and supplements that you can put to you to help you drift off into dreamland faster!
L-Theanine, an amino acid that is found in tea leaves, is known for it's alpha brain wave creating abilities. L-Theanine promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to a number of changes in the brain including boosting levels of GABA (Gamma-amino Butyric Acid), lowering levels of excitatory brain chemicals and enhancing alpha brain waves.
Let's focus on the brain-boosting abilities of this super supplement. As mentioned, L-Theanine elevates levels of GABA in our brains which increases serotonin and dopamine in addition. These neurotransmitters work as emotional regulators, mood stabilizers and help our brains focus and concentrate when called upon. When levels are increased, our brains have the opportunity to relax, rest and prepare for sleep. By lowering excitatory brain chemicals, our body is able to experience a sense of calmness that can combat the high levels of stress and anxiety that most individuals face on a daily basis. This is also one of the ways that L-Theanine can protect brain cells against stress and age-related disease and damage.
Lastly, Alpha brain waves are present during REM sleep which creates a state of calmness that we experience when we are meditating, being creative or letting our brain daydream. L-Theanine triggers the release of alpha-waves which enhances relaxation, focus, and creativity without causing a sedative effect.
Supplementing with L-Theanine Slow Release for Sleep:
If the goal is deeper, sounder sleep, L-Theanine is an obvious choice to supplement with before your head hits the pillow.
Due to it's Alpha brain-boosting abilities, L-Theanine can help our brain and body enter the first stage of NREM sleep where there is a high level of alpha brain waves. Supplementing with L-Theanine can help you fall asleep faster and easier at bedtime due to its relaxation boosting abilities. The amino acid does not act as a sedative, but rather lowers anxiety levels and promotes relaxation.
For those individuals who suffer from 3am awakening, Pure Lab Vitamins Slow Release L-theanine is the perfect choice. Taken at bedtime, the long acting formula guarantees a good nights sleep
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