Waking up and immediately dreaming about going back to sleep. A nightmare many of us relive on daily basis. Today we’re as diving as deep as deep sleep can get to explore the nighttime regeneration theory, counting down till the fully restorative practice begins. Waking up to life Looking at how much sleep we need during different stages of our lives, one might think that decreased amount of daily night rest as we age is completely natural. Newborns sleep in short intervals, getting from 12 to 18 hours of sleep. Before they reach 5 to 10 years of age, their sleep demand decreases to 10 hours. As they grow older, it decreases even more: teenagers require 8 to 9 hours and adults need 7 to 8 hours per day1. The scientifically-backed truth is that we were not born to sleep less. We were born to sleep, period. Unfortunately, in the world full of of digital distractions, tight schedules and all-consuming social phenomenon of FOMO2, quality sleep became one of the biggest luxuries one can get. But rarely does. Back to the roots Before we started relying on technology in most of the aspects of our lives, people were much more connected to nature. Everything they did – when they woke up, when and how they worked and when they ended their days – took place in natural, Sun- regulated daily cycles. Centuries later, this primal 24-hour internal clock called circadian rhythm, that enabled Homo sapiens to adapt internal physiology to environmental changes3 still ticks in our bodies and the more we neglect it, to more prone to ring the alarm it is. Circadian rhythm regulates most of the behavioral, physiologic, and metabolic functions of human body. It controls the nocturnal release of prolactin, melatonin, and norepinephrine, hormonal cocktail essential for maintaining optimal health4, regulates body temperature5, influences eating habits and digestion6, impacts mental health7 and regulates the sleep–wake cycle8. We are biologically programmed to maintain alertness and sleepiness by responding to light changes in our environment. We are also more and more socially programmed to stay awake, which leads to severe disorders in the sleep department. Active rest gets a completely new meaning Sleep is not just an absence of wakefulness. When you go to rest, your brain and body stay operating and even up to 30% more active than when you’re awake9 . Neurons communicate, tissues detoxify, muscles relax, hormones are being released… From optimal emotional and mental health to proper cognitive and behavioral functions, it is all possible thanks to daily dose of quality sleep10, that itself is not a homogenous process. It consists of two fundamentally distinct types of sleep, each linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity: 3 stages of non–rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep11. NREM Stage 1 is the lightest phase of sleep. During this short period (lasting several minutes, and consisting of around 5% of the total cycle) your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow, and your muscles begin to relax12. NREM Stage 2 happens right before you get into the deep sleep and lasts around 25 minutes in the initial cycle. Your heartbeat and breathing continue to slow down, your body temperature drops and eye movements stop. NREM Stage 3 Known as slow- wave sleep or deep sleep, is the deepest stage of sleep and is characterized by a much slower frequency with high amplitude signals called delta waves13. When you’re awake, your brainwave activity is going up and down 20-50 times per second. When you get to the deep sleep phase, it slows down to 8-10 cycles per second14. There’s a big chance that when in stage 3, it will be really difficult to wake you up -some people can’t even be bothered by noises as loud as over 100 decibels. Cognitive testing shows that those awoken during stage 3 tend to have mental fogginess known as sleep inertia and their mental performance might be moderately impaired for even an hour. When undisturbed, this is the stage when the body repairs and regrows its tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system15. This is also when dreaming and sleepwalking can occur16. REM sleep This stage usually starts 90 minutes after you fall asleep and is associated with dreaming. You start breathing faster, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, and you experience increased eyes activity under closed eyelids17. During REM sleep, we normally do not move as our muscles are temporarily paralyzed to protect us from physically acting out dreams18. Although we fully benefit from sleep only when going through all of the stages uninterrupted, the final phase of NREM, typically occurring during the first one-third of the night, is believed to be the most restorative type of sleep19. Do not disturb! You might not be fully aware that your deep sleep phase got interrupted during the night but you can be sure the next day your body will send you a not-so-friendly reminder of it. You’ll experience abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure, your blood sugar level might get out of balance (hello, constant snacking) and your body might feel generally unrecovered and grumpy20. When deep sleeping, you’re not just lying there looking cosy and doing nothing. That’s when every single of your body cells undergoes process after process, all of which make you feel fresh and ready for action in the morning 21: Your brain and body cool down, which makes you conserve and restore energy Your pituitary gland, referred to as the body’s ‘master gland’ because of its ability to control the activity of other hormone-secreting glands, sends out human growth hormone, helping your body repair muscle and other tissueYour insulin sensitivity regulatesYour brain reorganizes your memories, which means you remember better and learn more efficiently Your immune system strengthens When sleeping, you don’t reproduce, you don’t work nor change this world for a better place, you’re vulnerable to any threat and there’s a small chance you’ll make a good first impression due to lack of control over your muscles. And yet, this primal act of letting go of your consciousness is crucial to your wellbeing. Without it, none of your life and daily goals, whether it’s looking, thinking, feeling or working at your best, simply won’t be easily achievable. Perfecting you daily routine can help you learn to sleep better. Yes, learn. Falling asleep might happen automatically but how you sleep (how deep you sleep, to be precise) is not always the same. Factors like diet, stress levels or physical activity might promote or disturb sleep regulating in the night, and as a consequence, your daytime functioning. If you’re interested in peak performance, longevity and maintaining overall health, stick to a deep sleep friendly routine: Embrace the circadian rhythm: the more you’re in tune with your body’s natural daily cycle, the more you let your organs, glands and cells do their job on time22. Following a consistent bedtime routine can help you maintain your sleep-wake cycle, so skip late nights out for the sake of full body and mind restoration. Seek for an early morning sunlight exposure: If sunlight reaches your eyes shortly after your wake up call, it triggers a neural circuit that controls the timing of the melatonin and cortisol release, which affect the quality of sleep. Even as little as 10 minutes of morning walk facing the sun can be a regeneration game changer23.Keep naps short and early in the afternoon: trying to compensate lack of sleep during the night can send us straight to bed during daytime way too often and for way too long. That means, that instead of regulating your emotional and physical state you might sabotage your circadian rhythm and the quality of sleep24. If you have to keep napping in your daily schedule, stick to 20-25 minutes routine in the first half of the day25. Keep track of caffeine intake: when you have your noon pick me up cup of coffee, a quarter of the caffeine absorbed with every sip will still be in your system 12 hours later26. Not only will it make you less prone to falling asleep easily because it will simply keep you alert but it will also shorten NREM stage 3, decreasing the amount od deep sleep27. Next time you feel afternoon slump creeping in, exercise of take a breath of fresh air to feel more energized28. Keep your bedroom cool: Very high or very low temperature exposure can cause increased wakefulness and decreased rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep but you don’t have to go to extremes to experience trouble thermoregulating and sleeping, when your bedroom temperature is not on point29. When you lower your room temperature, you also help to lower your brain temperature and that leads to increasing cerebral metabolism, conserving energy and assisting other functions from immune regulation to circadian coordination30. To help your internal thermostat work at its best, aim for approximately 19–21°C of your environmental temperature31. Turn lights down after 10 p.m. If you want to follow circadian rhythm, imitate artificial sunset at your own home: dim the lights and avoid blue light exposure (that means no social media and TV series binge watching) to encourage the correct level of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone32. Once you’ll start implementing those simple rules to your daily routine, you’ll notice many small changes that combined, will have a huge impact on your overall health. Let’s start with the obvious one: you’ll wake up feeling energized instead of dreaming about a big cup of coffee. That’s already a lot, but there’s much much more -in many cases not as obvious: You might experience the feeling of bigger life satisfaction as the optimal amount of quality sleep will keep stress hormones at bay, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety33 You’ll get your appetite for sex back. Sleep deprivation causes libido decrease and is linked to higher risk of erectile dysfunction34. Better sleep simply means better sex. You’ll digest better. During the night we have a more regular intestinal motility than during the day and REM sleep is associated with faster gastric emptying35. When you sleep undisturbed, your digestion process goes undisturbed as well. Your skin will look healthier. Research show that good sleepers’ skin can regenerate almost 30% faster and is more resistant to ultraviolet light36. To complete your beauty routine, don’t forget about beauty sleep. Could it be that your biggest life changes can start by going to bed early? Theory looks promising but we’re ready to jump into practice, starting right now. And if there’s one thing we can recommend you to do tonight, it’s to follow our lead, straight into the dreamy land of mental and physical wellbeing. Good night! Marzena Jarczak An international model based in Paris. A researcher, copy writer and a journalist exploring for us the areas of neuroscience, brain, biohacking, living healthy life. Author of Out & About series discovering cultural life in Paris in all its aspects. A strong, wise personality with a growth mindset. Read more: Physiology, Sleep Stages, Patel AK, Reddy V, Araujo JF, 2021A threat to loyalty: Fear of missing out (FOMO) leads to reluctance to repeat current experiences, Ceres Hayran, PLoS One 2020, 15(4)Physiology, Circadian Rhythm, S. Reddy, V. Reddy, S. Sharma, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2021Sleep and 24 hour body temperatures: a comparison in young men, naturally cycling women and women taking hormonal contraceptives, Fiona C Baker, Jonathan I Waner, Duncan Mitchell, The Journal of Physiology 2001 Feb 1, 530 (Pt 3), 565-574Circadian Rhythms, National Institute of General Medical SciencesWhy your sleep and wake cycles affect your mood, Lawrence Epstein MD, Syed Moin Hassan, Harvard Health BlogCircadian rhythms, sleep, and metabolism, Wenyu Huang, Kathryn Moynihan Ramsey, Biliana Marcheva, Joseph Bass, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2021, 2011 Jun;121(6):2133-41Dr Matthew Walker: The Science and Practice of Perfecting your Sleep, Andrew Huberman, 2021The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep, Andy R. Eugene, Jolanta Masiak, MEDtube Science, 2015 MarchPhysiology of Sleep, David W. Carley and Sarah S. Farabi, Diabetes Spectrum 2016 Feb, 29(1): 5-9Physiology, REM Sleep, Feriante J, Araujo JFShort- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption, Goran Medic, Micheline Wille, and Michiel EH Hemels, Nature and Science of Sleep 2017; 9; 151-161The Deep Clean of Deep Sleep, Keri Wiginton, 2020 MayThe relative contributions of the homeostatic and circadian processes to sleep regulation under conditions of severe sleep restriction, Gemma Paech, Sally A Ferguson, Charli Sargent, David Kennavay, Gregory Roach, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2012 Jul (1); 35(7): 941-8Setting your biological clock, reducing stress while sheltering in place, Mandy Erickson, 2020 June 3, Scope by Stanford MedicineThe effects of napping on cognitive functioning, Nicole Lovato, Leon Lack, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2010;185:155-166Sleep expert Matthew Walker on the secret to a good night’s rest, Janan Ganesh, Financial Times, 2019 JanuaryThe Buzz on Alcohol and Caffeine, Dr Matthew WalkerCharacteristics of circadian rhythm in six variables of morning active and evening active healthy human subjects, S. Gupta, A.K. Pati, 1994 AprilEffects of thermal environment on sleep and circadian rhythm, Kazue Okamoto-Mizuno and Koh Mizuno, Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 2012The Temperature Dependence of Sleep, Edward C. Harding, Nicholas P. Franks, and William Wisden, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2019, 13Better sleep, better life? How sleep quality influences children’s life satisfaction, Courtney K Blackwell, Lauren E Hartstein, Amy J Elliott, Christopher B Forrest, Jody Ganiban, 2020The Relationship Between Sex and Sleep, Eric Suni, March 2021, Sleep FoundationDoes poor sleep quality affect skin ageing?, P. Oyetakin-White, A. Suggs, B. Koo, M.S. Matsui, 2015 Jan;40(1) Stop, look, listen: Embrace the power of aromatherapy – lower your heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, ease stress, reduce anxiety. Sprinkle your pillow or diffuse few oils in steam to set your body up for sleep and improve it’s quality. Some of the most powerful essential oils you can look at are: lavender oil, ylang ylang oil, chamomile oil, peppermint oil, bergamot oil, sandalwood oil, cedar wood oil, sweet marjoram oil, clary sage oil, vetiver oil, eucalyptus oil, jasmine oil, valerian oilThe art of Tomás Sánchez – he is a renown Cuban painter and engraver which paintings are linked by critics and curators to the experience of meditation. Dive deep into his collection of landscapes that soothe the mind and transport you to an instantly calming place. Feel the space in them. Hear the silence and nature. Embrace the healing solitude.Waking Life – a movie from 2001 by Richard Stuart Linklater. One of his trade marks is that his movies often take place within a single day. For us, this emphasises that each day we live is filled with precious people, thoughts and emotions and it’s important to be able to distinguish what is real and what is just a phantasmagoria. In the movie we are taken on a dream trip of discovery and discussions about the meaning of the universe that surrounds us. All that accompanied by the music of Tosca Tango Orchestra. Magical Eden by Hania Rani a polish pianist, composer and vocalist – let yourself go and feel away.Anupama Kundoo – the indian architect creates the craft-inspired, comforting spaces for contented living. Her architecture of happiness engages local materials and local artisans, combines contemporary technologies and traditional techniques. For her exhibition at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, Kundoo wrote an essay about time, stating “the work of a lifetime is part of a large collective action in time and space. As such, it is essential to claim not only space but time too – puritanical ethics be damned. After all, who are we to manage time? Time is managed by the sun.”Mindset – a book by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. This is not a new position (2007), yet brings so much new light into how you think about yourself and how you approach challenges. Obligatory reading for everyone, especially for parents raising kids. We recommend it here as it was of the important milestones on our way to gaining profound inner peace.