Sleep’s Regenerative Capacity: Working With Our Circadian Rhythm

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How does it feel to know that we’re barely scratching the surface of our capacity for self healing, self development, and spiritual wellness that we can readily access through the mechanisms of our sleep?

Our brain remains biologically active while we sleep. In fact, it demands 50% of our calorie intake during sleep, much of which goes into memory processing, storage, and emotional detoxification in the brain. When we start to disrupt REM sleep, we see an accumulation of emotional trauma, emotional stress, unprocessed emotional memory, coupled with a poor processing and consolidation of long term memory.

This leaves your brain with a sense of ungroundedness after shortened sleep or fractured sleep—all as a consequence of poor sleep hygiene i.e. keeping phones on the bed and in the bedroom, and poor sleep timing, both of which are completely in our control to solve. 

Giving that restful state to the brain as it starts to detox the emotional energy of the day is key, and a lot of the way that this happens is through dreams. Dreaming is the way that your brain processes out the emotional toxicity of the day, and this dream state takes place in REM sleep. 

REM sleep is the time when your brain paralyzes all your peripheral muscles and allows your mind to enter this extreme creative state and subconscious emotional detoxification. In order to get the full benefits of this integral process, it’s important to set your patterns of sleep such that you maximize REM to get the maximum subconscious processing of your previous day. 

To do so, you’ll want to time your first cycle of sleep between 9-10pm. When you prime yourself with that beginning, you allow your body to go into your third cycle of sleep by 3am which is when your liver detoxes. As the liver detoxes, and you're cleansing from the day, a bulk of it is REM AND is on the back end of the biological detox experience.

This is what makes reaching your third cycle of sleep so important, as your mind and your body synergistically work together to thoroughly cleanse your body of biological and emotional stressors, something that becomes increasingly difficult to achieve the later that you push your bedtime.

In your first cycle of sleep which spans about 3 hours, you see a minimum amount of REM sleep. During this first cycle of sleep, you get a lot of stage 4 sleep, if you’re sleeping well. Stage 4 is critical in achieving that biological sense of “I am regenerated, I feel good, I had a good night’s sleep”, of that sense of mental and physical rest.

If you start this cycle late, as with most people in today’s society who go to bed at 12am, or even 1am for many others, you’re already going into your liver detox in the midst of what should be your deep stage 4 sleep. That can be disruptive, especially if you’ve had any alcohol, and you wake up at 3am, unexplained.

What’s happening here is that your body goes into an active metabolism of those downstream sugars of that alcohol during that 3am detox period. This is why it’s advisable not to have any alcohol 4 hours before going to bed, in order to give your body time to metabolize the alcohol and give you a more restful sleep. This means that if you plan to sleep at 9pm, you should be having your last glass, before 5pm.

Already starting your stage 4 sleep late AND getting it disrupted because of it’s simultaneous detoxification schedule of your liver, making you wake up, severely cuts your brain’s capability to feel mentally and physically rested, even if you adjust your sleep and wake up later.

As you allow your body to get into that stage 1, 2, 3, and 4 sleep, you allow your brain to go into deeper and deeper states of parasympathetic, the yin to the yang of our sympathetic waking state or Fight or Flight state. 

Allowing your body to reach stage for of sleep is ultimately the biggest blessing to the body, by allowing yourself to reverse out of that sympathetic state that we find ourselves often in.

What we know now barely scratching the surface of our knowledge base on sleep, but as we expand and come to fully realize the mental, physical, emotional, and psychological regenerative capacity of sleep, I think we would do well to explore into our body’s unique healing powers and discover for ourselves what we can do to tap into the wonders within.

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