How much sleep do you get? Chances are, it’s not nearly enough. Deepak Chopra explains why seven-to-eight hours per night is necessary to keep your body operating as healthily as possible.
Chopra’s latest book, written with co-author Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, is titled Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being.
During deep sleep, which is approximately 45 minutes every hour, we actually clean out all the sludge from our brain. Our brain is very active actually in deep sleep. It also does what is called unconscious mental processing. So deep sleep actually increases the activity of those genes that are responsible for removing toxins. We also know that in dream sleep, you release psychological stressors. And now there is new research that shows that there’s a protein that gets activated that’s part of your epigenome, which is like a chaperone. It never sleeps. This protein is active in a dream state, in deep sleep. It’s basically cleaning up your body of accumulated stresses and toxins. If you’re sleep-deprived, you have a high risk for obesity because there are certain hormones that are known as ghrelin and leptin that change your hunger and satiety levels. They also change steroid metabolism. So even if you didn’t eat too much, you get to belly fat, lack of sleep. And then the belly fat acts as an endocrine organ, a hormonal organ that messes up steroid metabolism. So it’s a vicious cycle. Deep sleep, therefore, is associated with inflammation, with leaky gut, with loss of creativity, a loss of energy, Alzheimer’s, risk for many inflammatory disorders. This research is pretty new and a deep sleep, which means about seven to eight hours of sleep every night without drugs or induced by alcohol, is absolutely essential for your body to remain in good health, to remove the amyloid from your brain that causes premature dementia and Alzheimer’s and to actually self-regulate the cellular activity in your entire body. I couldn’t emphasize that sleep is probably the number one thing our society needs to pay attention to. And most people in our society, 70 percent or so, are using a sleeping aid to sleep, but it doesn’t give you normal sleep anyway. So you’re not refreshed in the morning; you’re not getting natural sleep; and you’re risking yourself too addictive tendencies as well. Besides, it’s not doing what sleep is supposed to do.
So when you go to sleep, make sure there are no distractions; make sure that you had a good active day, paradoxically the more exercise you do, the better sleep you get; make sure that your bedroom has no distractions. You shouldn’t have a TV set in your bedroom; you shouldn’t have your computer in your bedroom; you should not have your phone in your bedroom, nothing. The room should be totally dark because darkness helps increase melatonin. You should not associate your bedroom with anything other than sleep or sex, but if you do associate it with entertainment or anything else, that’s going to interfere with the quality of your sleep. The room should be dark and you can use things like aromatherapy, et cetera, to relax your body. You can do breathing awareness, but you shouldn’t have to try to sleep. Trying to sleep is actually stressful. The more you try to sleep the more insomnia you’ll get.