8 Laws of Natural Health:
A D E Q U A T E R E S T
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. Psalms 4:8.
When God created this world He gave to the human race a wonderful gift, rest. He gave us the night for sleeping. But that was not enough rest for man, so after God had created the world in six days, He provided more rest for us.
The Genesis record tell us that, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which God created and made." Genesis 2:1-3.
After providing everything else for our needs and benefit, God gave to humanity the Sabbath, a day of rest and a time of spiritual reflection and communion with our Creator.
The Body's Need Of Rest
"...This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing…." Isaiah 28:12.
We can go without food for weeks, but we cannot go without sleep for more than a few days. Our bodies depend on the sleep cycle in order to rest and repair. Even during the day, the heart rests after each beat, and the lungs after each breath of air.
During the day as we think, work, and move about, the body cells are in a constant state of activity. This is good, and exercise in the fresh air is the best way to stimulate this cellular activity. We have discussed in previous chapters what happens during cell metabolism, when the oxygen and glucose come together in the cells, and energy and waste are released.
This waste matter is called lactic acid. This causes the pain and stiffness that we feel in our muscles after heavy exercise. When we rest, the blood circulates through these sore and tired muscles bringing in fresh supplies of oxygen and glucose. This rejuvenates our muscles and we can then return to our work.
Waste removal, cell repair, rest, and relaxation are all the benefits from a good night's sleep. During sleep the body's temperature slightly decreases, the heart and breathing slows down, muscles, nerves, and organs rest, but the brain continues its activities while we rest in a state of unconsciousness. There are some critical areas of the brain that are even more active in sleep than when we are awake. During sleep the brain reorganizes information that we have learned the day before, giving us a better recall. This reorganizing process is why a good night's sleep is very helpful for students that are taking a test the next day.
Another aspect of rest is the effect that the circadian rhythm has on our daily life cycle. During the night our body slows down, and the work of cell rebuilding and repair is in process. As this work comes to an end and the body is refreshed, we start to wake up in the early morning hours as the pituitary gland releases a hormone called ACTH. This in turn stimulates the adrenal glands, causing small amounts of adrenaline to be secreted into the blood stream, which arouses the body's organs. As we "wake up," the entire body's metabolism climbs until eight or nine AM, when it peaks and then levels off until mid afternoon. Then it starts to drop, bottoming out at bedtime. It is as if the body was on a "time clock," for this controls many of our internal functions as well as how we think and feel.
Scientists who study human sleep patterns have found that we sleep in cycles from 80 to 120 minutes long. They have also discovered that during these sleep cycles we go through 4 stages of sleep:
Stage 1 sleep: Is not really true sleep, but it lasts about five minutes during which the body slows down, our eyes close and we are starting to drift into deeper sleep.
Stage 2 sleep: Sleep is not deep; the heart and breathing decrease only slightly and the eyes are still.
Stage 3 sleep: Is a much deeper sleep. The heartbeat and breathing have slowed down and body temperature is decreasing.
Stage 4 sleep: This is the deepest sleep, which usually takes an hour to reach. The heartbeat and breathing has decreased 20 to 30 percent by now
As the sleep cycle bottoms out in stage 4, it will then climb until it reaches stage 1. Now an interesting thing happens. Scientists call this REM sleep, (Rapid Eye Movement) and it is during this REM-stage 1 sleep that we dream. As we go through the sleep cycles, the deep sleep that we experience in stage 3 and 4 stop toward morning. We only sleep in stage 1 and 2 as the body's time clock awakens the entire system and we begin another day.
You may be asking, why bore you with all these facts? Researchers have found that when we get poor REM and stage 4 sleep that we can have serious depression and emotional problems. It is during REM sleep that the brain reorganizes information that we have learned recently. This directly affects our ability to learn and our memory recall.
The production of melatonin and other sleep inducing hormones in the pineal gland plays a very important part in these sleep cycles. This tiny gland, the size of a pea, is located in the brain and produces at least four chemical compounds in adulthood. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for rejuvenating and repairing our bodies at night. Along with sertonin that elevates our moods and affects our sleep, is atginine vasotocin that induces deep sleep.
Melatonin is produced when the gland draws an amino acid, tryptophan, from the blood. Tryptophan is converted to sertonin, which in turn is converted to melatonin when sufficient amounts of an enzyme called NAT is present. The body does not store melatonin, thus making the daily production very important for our well being. The optimum melatonin production takes place during the night usually between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM. During this time melatonin levels are found to be five to ten times higher than during daylight hours. This is accomplished when "shade" signals (light to dark), picked up by the retina are fed through the optic nerve to the brain. There they influence the circadian rhythm cycles which together signal a drop in melatonin during light time and a rise during dark time. However, melatonin can be produced directly by the retina itself under certain conditions of darkness.
Much of this article was extracted from an article by Dr. Michael Casey and Ashley Cunningham, Our Creator's Plan for Excellent Health, www.pathwaytoeden.com