Sleep is the longest uninterrupted activity that a human body routinely does. Getting a good night’s sleep is a blessing and makes a tremendous impact on the quality of your work. The body has a schedule according to which it repairs and rejuvenates itself. Illustration 9 is a chart that shows the rhythm that the body follows. Send the kids through a walkable neighbourhood on a treasure hunt this weekend.
There are systems in the body that secrete – or stop secreting – certain hormones that maintain bodily functions at different levels of readiness. For example, at 10.30 p.m., bowel movement is restricted while at 8.30 am bowel movement is encouraged. Between 11.00 p.m. and around 3.00 a.m. is the time for deep sleep.
This is when the body really pulls its socks up and gets to work, repairing the wear and tear it has experienced. If you are awake during this time, there is no chance for the body to fix itself and over time disease sets in. Fortunately, the body is amazingly elastic and given half a chance will manage to fix itself over time. Even years of abuse can be fixed with relative ease if food and sleep patterns are taken care of.
Recent research shows that our brain clears out its trash during sleep! The brain uses about 20 percent of all the energy the body produces. When energy is used, there is always junk created in the form of toxic molecules. I call it Brain Poo. Accumulating Brainpop over the years is an open invitation to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Ideally, the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) should be able to drain it out, but when you are awake, the space in the brain is literally jammed with activity. This doesn’t allow the CSF to do its job efficiently. When you are sleeping, the interstitial space (the fluid area surrounding the cells of a tissue) swells to more than 20 percent of its size when you are awake. Some scientists claim it can be up to 60 per cent.
This provides the required room for the CSF to play the janitor and clear out all the deadly waste that’s been generated during the day’s mental activity. It also allows the CSF to reach deeper within the brain, to places it simply cannot access when the brain is active. Going for an exam sleep deprived, after an all-night session of cramming, translates into super sluggish neural activity. You may even forget what you already know because your brain is full of poo! To cut a long story short, everyone should be sleeping at least six to eight hours, not more than nine hours and making sure that they are in deep slumber between the hours of 11.00 p.m. and 3.00 a.m. This will ensure many years of great health, a sharper intellect, a physically cleaner brain and a keener mind.