by in Medical information 25 February 2020

The sleep, Késako?

Sleep is necessary for the proper functioning of our body. It allows the cells to repair or regenerate themselves. It regulates certain functions of our organism such as growth, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, immunity, cognition and elimination of toxins. Finally, it simply allows us to prepare for the future day ahead.

A sleep cycle is composed of 4 phases which are: falling asleep, light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. This cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes. An adult is between 3 and 5 cycles a night. In the majority of cases, the sleep requirement is 7 to 8 hours per night. The duration of sleep in the individual is random. The rule is to respect the need for sleep whatever it is, this same need must allow us to wake up with a feeling of rest and ready to attack a new day!

       Let’s take a closer look at what happens in our body when we sleep: When we go to sleep, brain activity slowly slows down. Nevertheless, the slightest noise can wake us up. Then, the light sleep phase sets in and causes a drop in body temperature, heart rate and muscle relaxation. It is during deep sleep that the hypothalamus orders the thyroid to produce growth hormones that will grow the child and repair the damaged cells of the adult. Similarly, the hypothalamus orders the stomach to produce the hormones of appetite and satiety (ghrelin and leptin). Finally, the brain, liver and muscles make sugar reserves while the carbohydrate, lipid and protein levels increase in the blood. Then comes the paradoxical sleep which is the period when the brain works a lot: it fixes our memories and the learning that we did the day before. This is also the phase where we dream. At the end of our sleep cycle, the brain regains control of the limbs. We often move at this stage: It is the micro-awakening (if we start again on another cycle) or the awakening.

Some rules to be adopted for a quality sleep.

1. Have regular sleep schedules:

To do this, you first need to define whether you are an “early-bird” / “late-night”, an “early riser” / “late riser” and the number of hours of sleep you need. . The holiday period is ideal to naturally determine these parameters because you will not have waking constraints related to work or another activity. Once you have defined your sleeper profile, impose a fixed-time alarm to condition your body to sleep and wake up naturally at fixed times.

2. Practice the art of napping.

According to our biological clock, our vigilance decreases between 12h and 15h approximately. So this is the ideal time to do a micro-nap. This must not exceed 20 minutes. This practice allows you to take a break, regain strength and prepare for the next sleep.

3. Practice regular Physical Activity

The physical activity takes place between 4 and 8h before the usual time of sleep. This activity must be moderate (walking, light jogging, cycling, etc.) and followed by a relaxation technique (stretching, deep breathing, massages, etc.).
The idea is to promote quiet activities at the end of the day.

4. Avoid the excitement after 3:00.

Coffee, tea and other caffeine-based drinks disrupt sleep and sleep quality. As for the nicotine present in the cigarette, it favors the nocturnal awakening. Avoid anything that can activate alertness and solicitation of the brain.

5. Dine light!

Do not eat too heavy at dinner because you may wake up in the middle of the night. Similarly, proteins (meat, fish, etc.) stimulate alertness. Prefer foods and sugary drinks (herbal teas) before sleeping as they promote falling asleep.

6. Pay attention to the signs of sleep.

Signs such as yawning, stretching, tingling eyes, etc. indicate that it is time to put our body at rest. Do not resist fatigue and go to bed.

7. Arrange your room to sleep well.

A calm and soothing environment promotes falling asleep: Air your room every day. Make sure that when you go to bed, the temperature of your room is between 16 and 18 ° C. Use quality bedding that does not damage your back. Sleep in the dark so that your brain secretes the sleep hormone (melatonin). Your room should contain as few objects as possible so as not to excite your brain. Avoid making your room a cinema, a jukebox, an office or a museum of new technology because these situations activate the brain and do not prepare it for sleep. Your bed should only be used to sleep so that when you go to bed, your brain instantly creates a connection between your bed and sleep.

8. Adopt a bedtime ritual.

Take a cold shower to cool your body because it is when the body is cold that sleep is easier read a few pages, practice a relaxation technique or any other gesture that relaxes you to prepare you to sleep. The repetition of these same actions conditions you to sleep and allows you to shorten the duration of the sleep.

9. Adopt a ritual when you wake up.

Whenever possible, always wake up at the same time. This regularity can effectively restore a good sleep. Upon waking, expose yourself to daylight or artificial light to activate your body, regulate the day / night system and prepare your body for the day that awaits you. Warm up by taking a hot shower and a hot drink always in order to activate your body.

The sleep and plants.

Plants may be useful in a recent onset sleep disorder, with no serious pathological cause but which is linked to moderate stress or anxiety. Herbal medicine is also used to accompany drug withdrawal (hypnotics, anxiolytics, etc.). This medicine is effective, however, all individuals do not respond in the same way so if a plant has not worked with you, do not give up! there are others. In addition, we must allow time for the plants to act. This time depends on each organism. Before beginning a treatment with plants, I advise you to tell your doctor to avoid any drug interaction with any conventional treatment.

Some plants are to be taken first. These dry plants are safe and are used at the first sign of a sleep disorder. They are for use as an herbal tea and can be combined. An infusion of 5g of plant per liter will be necessary but use only 2 or 3 cups in the day and a cup 30 minutes before bedtime. The treatment will not exceed 4 to 6 weeks. The plants concerned are: linden flowers, lemon balm leaves, bitter and sweet leaves and bitter flowers, lemon verbena leaves and chamomile flowers. According to some studies, aerial parts and eschscholtzia flowers reduce the duration of sleep and improve the quality of sleep. Its dosage is 50 to 75 mg of dry extract, 1 to 2 times at bedtime.

Valerian, for its part, is the reference of plants of the sleep disorder. It is scientifically proven that the hydroalcoholic dry extract * of the underground organ of valerian treats the cases of insomnia. Its dosage is 200 to 300 mg of extract, the evening before going to bed, for 2 weeks to 1 month. I advise against valerian herbal tea the active molecule loses its properties in contact with heat. In addition, the smell and taste of the plant are far from pleasant.

* Dry hydroalcoholic extract: the plant is mixed with alcohol to extract its active molecules but it is evaporated during the process of manufacture of the dry extract.

Keep in mind that the time spent sleeping is not wasted time.