In the seventeen century the English writer Robert Burton observed “Our body is like a clock; if one wheel is amiss, all the rest are disordered, the whole fabric suffers: with such admirable art the harmony is a man composed”.
This is something that since Robert’s time has been proved millions of times over with a huge array of scientific research. So, what are the most important ‘wheels’ to keep ordered? They are the foundational principles of health, of which sleeping enough is of course a critical one.
The human body is a wonderful fluid dynamic and variable biological system. It is affected by the seasons, the planets and the time of day or night we are in. Our body, although very good at regulating a steady state known as homeostasis also has a surprising amount of variability throughout any given day.
Now there are literally hundreds of health improvements that come about as a result of better knowing your bodies rhythm’s however we will focus on just a few today to help you see how critical this understanding can be.
Perhaps the most important foundational aspect of the body’s natural rhythms is the sleep and wake cycle. It may seem glaringly obvious that we need to get enough sleep. However, in our modern 24-hour society it seems to be increasingly overlooked as we try to cram ever more into our days and stay up late at night to try and get more out of our free time.
Getting enough sleep is critical to both our physical and mental health and not getting enough can certainly have wide ranging negative effects on our state of health and wellbeing. When sleep deprived a mass of negative effects can occur such as a lessened ability to make insulin and use glucose, higher blood pressure, high cortisol levels at times when they should be falling and disturbances in thyroid function.
So, what would this mean for us, well to name a few of the implications of this we could get memory problems, muscle aches and pains, blood sugar handling issues, digestive problems, fatigue and prolonged mental fogginess, increased chance of weight gain, and reduced immune function.
Go to bed on time! The time we need to go to sleep will most likely vary from person to person however the basic guideline is to get around 8 hours sleep per night. You should aim to get to bed by 10pm and be up by 6-7am. Doing this on a regular basis will give you optimal physical and mental recovery, allowing you to perform better and give you greater clarity and energy throughout the day.
It’s so simple that most people don’t do it, then they wonder why they can’t achieve their health objectives whatever they may be. Remember that if one ‘wheel’ is disordered the whole fabric suffers. When the wheel is as foundational as sleep is, this is truly the case.
Books referenced: The body clock guide to better health Michael Smolensky and Lynne Lamberg