Does it Matter What Time We Go to Sleep?

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Today’s This and That topic is…does it matter what time we go to sleep?

Well, the thing to consider is that our bodies are not static.

Our bodies are self-contained systems in constant flux. In the medical world, some of these ebbs and flows are called circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physiological changes that happen over a 24-hour period. They are affected by environmental cues such as sunlight and darkness and influence internal processes like sleep/wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other functions.

For example, in the mornings, with exposure to light, the brain sends signals to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol, which gives us energy. Melatonin, on the other hand, is associated with sleep and is produced when we’re exposed to darkness.

In the acupuncture world, we view the body as going through rhythms throughout the day and night, in two hour blocks, with the body having different needs at different times and producing necessary building blocks at different times. During the dark nighttime hours, when we are supposed to be resting, our bodies rebuild and restore themselves.

Staying up very late cuts into the body’s regenerative time, leaving us tired and foggy-headed the next day.

So, even though someone feels they are getting “enough” sleep, because they slept from 2am to 10am, they might wonder why they feel so groggy!

From both the ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ medical perspectives, the general consensus is that we should go to sleep before 10pm or 11pm, and stay in bed for 7 or 8 hours, which will be far more beneficial than going to bed later and sleeping late into the morning.

More to come!