Your Brain and Sleep

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CHARLOTTE – This is a reprint of a previous column, but it still applies and I’d like to share it with you again. During this time, I can almost bet that your sleep pattern has been off. For me, I’m tired (tired of what I’m not sure), but once my head hits the pillow I’m restless. For hours. Once I’m asleep I dream very vividly of work, so I’m making the assumption that subconsciously that’s weighing me down. I’ll finally get to sleep and start the hamster wheel all over again the next day.

I’ve had issues with good, sound quality sleep (or lack of it) for about 10 years. What’s the cause? Hormones more than likely. Exercise definitely helps, so does massage. Massage for me has been an essential way for me to destress and relax enough to get a better night’s sleep. But the main reason I’m sharing this is I don’t think we all realize how important sleep is. In massage school, we were taught that sleep is when the body repairs itself, and if you’re not getting enough sleep then how will you heal and get better, or keep yourself healthy?

Last year I found a study that impresses the importance of sleep even more. Our brain is miraculous and it works with our body in a beautiful way. It must be in optimal working order and one thing it demands is sleep. What happens when we sleep? Our brain takes a bath. Not a relaxing bath, but a bath where it gets an aggressive scrubbing, like a dishwasher.  During sleep our brain shrinks a bit and allows a fluid (cerebrospinal) to be pushed all around the brain, scrubbing the plaque that has built up during the day. The importance of removing this plaque is that this may be where Alzheimer’s gets its start. The more plaque removed, the healthier the brain is, and the healthier you are.

To me this is mindblowing. How amazing it is that our body takes this kind of care of itself. We’ve always thought the brain is delicate, and in a lot of aspects, it is, but not so delicate that it gets a good scrubbing every single night while you sleep. Check out these links for more information on our brain’s ‘plumbing’ (National Geographic actually has a neat video that shows the process):

Make sure you make getting a goodnight’s sleep a priority (most studies say around 7-8 hours is good). Get a massage to help manage stress and promote better sleep. Talk to your doctor if you’re having a hard time getting your rest. Research essential oils, lavender seems to do a great job promoting sleep as well. Get your exercise and get enough sleep so you can have a healthy life, both physically and mentally.

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