Guest Column: Michael J. Breus, PhD

A Medical Perspective from Michael J. Breus, PhD, The Sleep Doctor™

Whatever activities define or encompass your active lifestyle we know that the activities of the day lead our bodies to need rest and recovery at night. Sleep is when every “body” recovers and heals. Sleep actually helps with your body’s daily recovery process on both a physical and mental level. And having the right equipment, including the right mattress is critical to your body’s recovery.

Let’s Get Physical!

During the day you expose your body to a host of activities and elements. Sleep is the “time out” your body requires to make necessary cellular repairs and focus on restoring your body from the inside out.

Deep sleep in particular becomes your own private operating room for all those daily injuries. Deep sleep reached about 30 to 40 minutes after you first close your eyes refers to non- REM stages 3 and 4 in your sleep cycle. Your brain waves become slower and more powerful, and this slow-wave sleep is what’s necessary for restoring your body. Deep sleep is famous for its growth-inducing properties, and plays a major role in maintaining your general health. During this time, growth hormone responsible for stimulating tissue repair, cell replacement, brain function and enzyme production are renewing the skin and bones, regenerating the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys, bringing back organ and tissue function to more youthful levels. These natural improvements cannot be magically conjured up without adequate sleep.

Your Mind Matters!

New research suggests that during the initial stages of sleep, energy levels increase dramatically in brain regions that are active when we’re awake. Scientists behind this latest study believe this surge of cellular energy may replenish the brain’s processes needed to function normally during the day.

There’s a lot to do when we’re awake. In addition to all the tasks we complete consciously, think about all the things we do subconsciously—like breathing—or on auto- pilot—like: surfing the net, walking the dog, sometimes even driving a familiar route. All this activity requires—you got it— the energy that appears to be produced by a good night’s sleep. No sleep or poor sleep, leads to no energy expended in the brain to help us recover from the day and, in essence, recharge our mind. So sleep is the ultimate recovery for both your body and mind. So how does a mattress play a part in the recovery process?

Get the Right Equipment for the Right Results

I believe mattresses are pieces of performance equipment and sleep is the body’s time to perform its recovery. When you are asleep you rely on your sleep system (mattress and pillow) to keep your back and spine aligned. By also maintaining balanced pressure against your skin, you allow for proper circulation and blood flow (too much pressure will restrict your capillaries, causing poor circulation, and make you uncomfortable). Keeping temperatures in a thermo-neutral state keeps you from waking up to either generate heat, or to ventilate when too hot. The right sleep system allows two distinct processes to occur. First when you head, neck and spine are aligned all pressure is removed from the spine. This allows the discs between your vertebral column to expand and rehydrate. You grow in your sleep. Second, your nutrition including growth hormone, now has a direct route to the places it needs to go. A surface that is too soft will not allow for proper alignment and the detour of growth hormone, nutrition and continued muscular strain to try to align the body all impede the recovery process. A surface that is too warm will wake you to remove blankets and a surface that is too cold a surface will wake you to try and generate heat.

Good quality and quantity sleep are critical to the recovery process from an active lifestyle, and your sleep system is the equipment you use to help guide you through this process.