Getting a good eight hours of sleep is about so much more than making sure you awaken looking and feeling refreshed. Sleep (and a good amount of it regularly) is integral to the maintenance of the body, mind, and soul — providing vital time every day for your body to rest and recuperate.
While you sleep, your body is hard at work repairing tissues and cells. Those nighttime hours provide a primetime to heal, but how does healing occur when we sleep? And how much sleep should you be getting to ensure your body can fulfil this all-important role?
The ultimate healing process
Your body and mind are pretty amazing, and they continue to do impressive things even when you’re resting.
The sleep cycle – which lasts for 90 minutes in total – consists of five stages, and at every phase your body is working hard to heal itself.
Stage 1 sees the logging of muscle memories and movements. Stage 2 concentrates on the growth of tissue and the regulation of metabolism. While stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep) sees you recover and re-energise.
It’s at these stages that your body prepares you for any future health concerns by strengthening your immune system. Here Insider describes the immunity-boosting benefits that are realised during sleep:
“Sleep is a vital part of proper immune functioning and your body’s defence against disease. This is because, while you’re sleeping, your immune system is fighting infections by releasing cytokines — a group of proteins that are secreted by cells of the immune system and used for chemical messaging. Research has shown that people who consistently sleep poorly or don’t get enough sleep are more prone to illness and infection.”
During the final stage – which is the only stage classed as REM or rapid eye movement sleep – there’s more work to be done. It’s during stage 5 that the healing of minor injuries occurs. In fact, according to this study, the body heals wounds faster during sleep.
How much sleep is enough?
The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours sleep every night. Babies, children, and teenagers need even more. School-age children and teens requiring between 9 and 11 hours of sleep. These are just guidelines, as the exact amount of sleep needed depends on a variety of factors.
Your activity levels, health, and even the amount of caffeine you drink during the day can all influence how much sleep is enough for you as well as impact your typical sleep patterns.
Our tips for a more restorative sleep
Whether 7, 8 or 9 hours of sleep is your magic number, enjoying a deeper, more restorative sleep can often come down to your sleep routine. Unbeknown to most, maintaining good sleep hygiene is something you should think about as soon as you wake up.
During the day, taking a walk, eating a balanced diet and even indulging in a little nap are all great ways to gear up to a better night’s sleep. Cutting the caffeine out 7 hours before bedtime is vital to achieving deeper sleep.
Come evening, refining your wind-down routine is another must. Your wind-down routine should start a couple of hours before bed.
Set the scene for better sleep by making your bedroom cool, quiet, dimly lit and clutter-free. You should also avoid your TV, phone or any other screen before bed. Instead, listen to music, read a book, enjoy a spot of yoga, or practise mindfulness to relax in a sleep-friendly manner.
Missing your pre-bedtime brew? Indulge in a cup of our Nourishing Night Tea to help relax the body, soothe the senses, and promote the healing process.