Discover How Deep Sleep Boosts Productivity And Creativity

Discover How Deep Sleep Boosts Productivity And Creativity

The busier you are or the more jet-set your life is, the deeper rest you need

Luke CoutinhoUpdated: Thursday, January 25, 2024, 08:10 PM IST
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Pic: Freepik

Rahul, an extremely qualified software engineer, knew his job well. However, for the past couple of weeks, he started feeling like his brain was muddled. He could not focus for long, experienced forgetfulness, and often forgot about meetings and deadlines, leading to increased stress. Decision-making became challenging due to a lack of clarity of thought. Relying on coffee and energy drinks to stay awake, he found temporary relief, but the cycle continued with multiple cups throughout the day, resulting in five cups of coffee and two energy drinks. Despite numerous tests, everything appeared normal except for elevated inflammatory parameters.

Friends dismissed it as an age-related issue, but when he approached us, a thorough lifestyle analysis revealed how sleep-deprived his body was. Despite engaging in mentally demanding work, he slept only three-four hours a day. Waking up groggy, coffee helped him cope until it was no longer effective, leading to more symptoms.

We built a personalised sleep protocol for him, emphasising routines, discipline, and consistency. Now, he enjoys eight to eight and a half hours of high-quality sleep, wakes up feeling rejuvenated, and uses coffee during his mid-day break. Productive and efficient, he no longer spends excessive hours at work and invests his extra time in learning new skills.

Well, that is the power of sleep. A gift all of us have, but not many of us use it efficiently. When talking about productivity, we chase time management, the Pomodoro technique, enhancing focus, cutting out distractions, and beverages like tea or coffee to ‘alert’ our brain. And while all of that is fine, we seldom tap into a deep rest.

Sleep equals productivity. It is not because I says so; it is because that is how our body is designed. While we hit snooze, there are important mechanisms of repair, rejuvenation, growth, healing, recovery, and cleaning that occur in our body.

What happens to your brain when you sleep?

Have you ever wondered when your brain detoxes or during which time it cleans itself up of all the residues and wastes? The brain is barely an elimination organ, but each organ has its wastes, and the brain has a beautiful mechanism of swiping itself clean when we are in deep sleep. There is not much, just the basics so our body’s intelligence can protect us.

Just like the lymphatic system, which is our body’s garbage disposal unit, our brain has an intelligently designed glymphatic system that helps remove its metabolic wastes from stress, overthinking, and information overload. Our brain is constantly producing these toxins, and an overload of these can lead to mental fatigue. And what activates the glymphatic system? Deep sleep.

When we sleep, our brain shrinks, and that is a good thing because it then creates space for the cerebrospinal fluid to enter and wash out the wastes and protein particles such as beta-amyloid plaques seen in the brain of an Alzheimer's patient. Excess beta-amyloid plaque formation and accumulation interrupt communication between neurons, leading to memory loss, slurring of speech, slow movements, confusion, and more. Toxins breed disease, and the same is the case with your brain.

Also, inflammation! Science terms cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia as inflammatory conditions. Among several factors, a chronic lack of sleep can increase inflammation. While we can keep popping curcumin supplements to quell inflammation, it cannot be a replacement for sleep.

This is the magic that occurs in your body when you sleep deeply. People usually start taking care of their cognitive health in their later stages of life, but Alzheimer's and Parkinson's do not happen overnight. The process is slow-moving but gradual, and the quality of your lifestyle and sleep today will decide the quality of your cognitive health thereafter. Do not take your sleep for granted just because it is free. Your body recovers, your muscles grow, your gut rebalances naturally, and so do your hormones. You gain better clarity, ideas, and brain energy. It is nature’s intelligence, sadly, we think we are smarter than nature, far from it.

Assign a value to sleep. Not just on Sundays but every day. Your body and brain do not care about your million-dollar business or your financial goal; they only care about survival. And, anything that threatens their instinct to survive, the body slows itself down.

Tips to improve sleep

These small changes will drastically help you to get a good night’s sleep.

Schedule: A consistent timing to fall asleep and wake up provides you with quality sleep and less dependency on alarms to wake up. You will feel fresh when you wake up.

Food pattern: Avoid taking any caffeine / alcohol items or heavy food right near sleep time. Eat your last meal three hours before sleeping. Avoid smoking too.

Right surroundings: Your room needs to be peaceful with curtains pulled up to keep light out. Invest in blackout curtains for shunning light away. Also the bed needs to be lightly dusted and must have comfortable bedsheets and pillows.

Diversions: It is best to stay away from artificial light and electronic gadgets. Sleep is a light sensitive process and too much content consumption before bedtime can stimulate our brain which prevents us from falling asleep.

Relaxation: There are several methods to help you relax your mind and body. Taking up reading, listening to light music, light exercises and meditation are few things that act as a sleeping aid.

In fact, the busier you are or the more jet-set your life is, the deeper rest you need. We all can make this happen; it starts with mindfulness and knowing our thoughts and mindsets.

(Luke Coutinho is an integrative lifestyle expert)

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