Syncing Your Circadian Rhythm
What do you really mean when you tell someone to “sleep well”? Good sleep is hard to define, and we tend to only notice bad sleep.
“Sleep is a pillar of health,” says Northwestern Medicine Chief of Sleep Medicine Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD. “It’s just as important as nutrition and exercise. It impacts everything.”
During sleep, your brain processes and stores memories, and your body repairs tissues and builds up antibodies to fight infection and inflammation. The success of these tasks affects your mood and cognitive function.
Bad sleep can impair your metabolism, causing weight gain and increasing risk of developing diabetes. Sleep disturbance can increase the development or severity of many disorders, ranging from gastrointestinal diseases, to cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders, to neurological and mental disorders.
Good sleep means feeling fully awake and alert during the day. You don’t just do this by increasing the duration of sleep. Good sleep means aligning your body’s circadian rhythm with the 24-hour cycle of each day.