While sleep may seem like the quintessential “inactivity”, it’s actually one of the most important activities you do each day. While your body is resting, many other functions are activated – and the healing process is one of the most important ones.
During sleep* your body is repairing itself from any damage experienced during waking hours. Think of sleep as a time to revive your body and physically restore it to its healthy self. It’s a fairly efficient, biological process. But when it is interrupted – in particular when a body becomes sleep-deprived, that process becomes inefficient and can lead to illness.
*Healing typically occurs during stages 3 and 4 of the non-REM part of the sleep cycle.
So how does sleep encourage healing – and what parts of our body are the beneficiaries?
When we go to sleep, we switch our bodies from a catabolic state – where we are expending a lot of energy – to an anabolic state – where energy is conserved. During this time of energy conservation, the brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth or regeneration. Adrenaline and corticosteroid levels go down and the body starts to produce human growth hormone, which promotes the growth, maintenance and repair of muscles and bones. Every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep than at any time when awake.
This can help you recover from injuries such as cuts but also sore muscles from your last workout. And it’s no wonder that after major surgery, physicians recommend adequate rest before resuming physical activity.
We’ve all heard the terminology “beauty sleep”. Does something really happen to our skin during sleep that can enhance how we look?
Yes! Throughout the day, you are continuously shedding the top layer of the skin, made of closely packed dead cells. Once you go to sleep, the body’s cell production kicks into gear as you hit deep sleep, due to a speeding up of the skin’s metabolic rate. The body’s cells increase production of proteins. And since proteins are the building blocks of cell growth and repair, this is the time when your skin is getting an extra boost of what it needs to be restored from the harmful damage of ultraviolet rays.
During sleep, the body makes white blood cells that can attack viruses and bacteria. For this reason, researchers have concluded that sleeping more when you are fighting an infectious illness can help with recovery. Scientists believe this may be related to increased protein production – as mentioned in the discussion on “beauty sleep”. The immune system increases production of key proteins during sleep, as the levels of these disease-fighting agents rise during sleep and decline when we are awake.
However, sleep isn’t beneficial only when we’ve already gotten sick. Getting enough sleep can also help resist infection. Studies of healthy young adults have shown that even moderate amounts of sleep deprivation can reduce the body’s level of white blood cells – impacting the body’s ability to defend itself against the next set of germs it is exposed to.
Can you do even MORE to promote healing while we sleep?
You may be surprised to find that you can. The sheets you sleep on and wrap yourself up in while you sleep can make a difference. Celliant ® Lumen Sheets, which have recently met the criteria to be an FDA approved medical device have built-in properties to promote healing. Celliant® fibers are clinically tested threads that absorb energy emitted by the human body and recycle it back into the body using infrared technology. In doing so, they enhance cell function, which speeds up healing.
We love these sheets for all of their healing properties as well as their proven ability to reduce the time that users spent awake at night – giving them more quantity and quality sleep.
The bottom line: Don’t shortchange your need for sleep to heal your body. So much repair, regeneration and general work within the tissue, skin and immune system of your body happen during your sleeping hours. Your time of “inactivity” has a lot of “activity” that should not be underestimated.