Sleep is of fundamental importance in our lives. If you think about it, it is one of the most "anti-evolutionary" practices that can exist. A living being that, in nature, loses consciousness for 8h (in our case), remaining at the mercy of the ecosystem that surrounds it (dangers, predators, etc.). And yet, in the millions of years of evolution, it has remained an essential element of ours, but also of all living species! This is the only way we can understand its fundamental role.
Sleep has infinite benefits, on a neural level, of health, of beauty, of body composition. Virtually all our "well-being" parameters are affected by how much we sleep.
In this article we will see how much and how we should sleep, we will understand what are the main benefits of sleep and we will see the most useful supplements to help us in case of deficiencies.
How much sleeping?
Scientific research indicates that the homo sapiens species needs 8h of sleep per night and 30-45 minutes in the early afternoon. This is the gold standard, what nature requires us to optimize our system. More hours may be needed in case of intense physical activity. For example, a sportsman, especially if he practices very demanding sports from the metabolic point of view (Olympic lift, Stephangman, rugbysta), needs even more hours of sleep to recover at best.
The 8h of sleep, typically contract during the night, however, can be lived at different times according to our genetic predisposition. There are subjects who tend to go to sleep early (9-10pm) and wake up early (5-6pm) and people who tend to go to sleep late (0-1am) and wake up late (8-9am). They are not so much choices or habits, there are real genetic predispositions!
These times also vary according to age. While in childhood and old age we tend to go to sleep early, during adolescence we tend to fall asleep later.
When we went to sleep at one o'clock as children and were sleepy at school, it was not so much our fault as, rather, a biological characteristic of our species that is not respected by today’s society.
Anyway, organization permitting, we should try to sleep at least 8h at night. The afternoon rest is also a characteristic of our species (c.d. biphasic sleep) so let’s not skip it if we are well!
How to sleep
Besides the "how much" is also important the "how" to sleep.
This is an undervalued and critical aspect for many people.
If you sleep long but "bad" - waking up often, with a restless sleep and a SNA that fails to regulate - rest is neither complete nor sufficient. However, it is very difficult to understand when this happens because lethargy and lack of sleep are symptomatic only in acute. When it becomes chronic, it becomes our standard, preventing us from noticing an ongoing deficiency.
Benefits of sleeping
Sleep has, as we have said, countless benefits. We will see them in this article briefly but we reserve the right to dedicate other pages to this specific subject.
- Improved insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate management.Typically, those who sleep well are less at risk of diabetes and metabolic syndromes.
- Improvement of blood values of triglycerides, cholesterol and drastic reduction of cardiovascular accidents.
- Reduction of sub-clinical inflammation.
- Improvement of mood and mental performance (memory, directional ability, calculation, etc.).
- Improving the quality of hair, skin and nails.
- Increased recovery from physical stress (trauma, muscle damage, training).
- Improvement of physical performance.
Then there are a whole series of evidence about MUS reduction (vague and non-specific symptoms) that make sleep the first real element to consider where we want to start a path aimed at improving our well-being.
Supplements for your sleep
Sleep supplements are used for two specific purposes:
1) on the one hand to trigger the processes that lead us to fall asleep (in case we struggle to get to sleep);
2) on the other hand maintain a good sleep quality.
Among the first we certainly have the melatonin, the main hormone in the circadian regulation of sleep-wake rebates. Often the inability to sleep comes from low levels of melatonin. Integrating it before bedtime is an excellent solution to fall asleep.
Valerian and chamomile are two natural extracts very effective in the processes of relaxation and therefore falling asleep.
Magnesium is also an excellent aid from this point of view. It promotes dopamine clearance. A high presence of dopamine at the neural level tends to keep us lucid and excited but prevents that there is a strong release of serotonin that is instead the neurotransmitter able to move the autonomic nervous system in the parasympathetic, therefore promoting sleep.
But magnesium, when taken in the form of bisglycinate, is also an excellent supplement to improve the quality of sleep. In fact, it comes with two glycine molecules responsible for the quality improvement of sleep. Always for the improvement of sleep quality we have components such as 5-HTP (precursor of serotonin) and GABA.
We have therefore seen the importance of sleep and the main supplements that can help us. My personal sleep-enhancing stack includes two Regexil tablets and two Magnesax sachets. To take before going to bed are a cure-all in the most stressful periods or in preparation for competitions!