Why You Need A Good Night’s Sleep For Optimal Health
Sleep is critical. One cannot keep a healthy mind and brain without enough sleep. Sleep deprivation studies bear this out. Loss of sleep is associated with poorer decision making, a loss of appetite control with an increase in hunger (bad combo). Changes in glucose and insulin tolerance that lead to increases in obesity and diabetes. 
Think about self imposed sleep deprivation for a second, who is making you sleep deprived? You? No one’s awarding you brownie points for burning the candle at both ends. As you can see from the introduction you are doing yourself a mighty disservice.
Sleep Yourself Thin
In the short term, the mild and chronic lack of getting a full night’s sleep may inhibit the complete flushing out all these accumulated brain wastes and be responsible for the effects of sleep deprivation. For instance, there is a higher rate of obesity among people who average less than seven hours of sleep a night. Think of the millions of people who are trying to lose weight and control their appetite without getting enough sleep is just making that task harder.
Maybe I should write a diet book, Sleep Yourself Thin, anyone?
What is it about sleep that makes it necessary?
Sleep Is The Time When The Brain Removes Waste
Sleep as it turns out, is the brain’s waste removal system. During sleep the glymphatic system turns on removing harmful amyloid proteins that accumulate in the brain during the day. When you sleep the Interstitial Space Volume of the brain increases that allows for the transportation of toxic waste out of the brain.   Excessive amyloid proteins are linked to neurological conditions like Alzheimers.
Best Sleep Positions
The glymphatic system is a relatively recent discovery, so there remains much to learn as it applies to humans. With rats, we learned that the lateral (sleeping on the side) position is best for the glymphatic system to remove waste. Followed by the supine position (sleeping on the back) and lastly in the prone position (sleeping on the stomach).
Whether these positions will be the same for humans remains to be tested. 
Sleep for Body Repair and Muscle Building
Some people working out at the gym believe they are building muscle at the gym. This is not so. Muscle building occurs after the gym while sleeping. The restorative process repairs the body and build muscle. Critical to this process is the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1).
About 80 percent of HGH is released during sleep, and it’s the HGH that triggers IGF-1 secretion.
IGF-1 uses the same receptor sites as insulin. If you eat carbohydrates before sleep, your blood sugar rises, the pancreas releases insulin. The insulin binds to its receptor sites blunting the positive effects of IGF-1.
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
- Set the environment. Do you have a TV in your bedroom? If so, remove it. Your bedroom is for sex and sleeping.
- Declutter. If your sleeping quarters are messy, clean it up. Don’t have your mind pulled away and become distracted by the mess.
- Get comfortable. Mattress, sheets and pillow. Find ones you love.
- Set a schedule. Plan on 8 hours of sleep. Decide what time you’re going to bed and when you’re waking up. This is hard I know. Trying to go to sleep on a schedule and not when you're tired can be frustrating.
- Darkness. With the lights off, is your bedroom dark? If not, see what you can do to kill the ambient light.
- Noise. Live in a noisy environment, consider background noise. White noise generator or natural sounds, like rain or waves on a beach.
- Cooler is better. Personal preference must rule here. I’m comfortable at 68 degrees.
- Caffeine — If you’re sensitive to caffeine restrict it before bedtime.
- Exercise — Too close to bedtime can wake some people up.
Difficulty Falling Asleep
- Take a melatonin supplement an hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and is a popular sleep aid.
- Read a book until you get sleepy. And by book I mean a real paper book, not a glowing screen.
- Meditating while lying down in bed. I’ve found myself falling asleep more than once during normal daytime practice.
- If after 20 minutes of lying in bed, sleep is still elusive, get up and do something to relax. Watch TV or listen to music until you become sleepy.
© 2020 John Iovine