Health Facts: Why sleeping before midnight is so important?
Written by Sneh Chaudhry on May 20, 2022
If you’re feeling tired and exhausted lately, then it might have something to do with the amount of sleep you’re getting in before midnight. Those precious moments of slumber before 12 are the most valuable, as it’s all related to how our bodies respond to changing light levels in the evening.
Dr.Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert and author of Tired But Wired: The Essential Sleep Toolkit, explained the science behind it to Stylist. “Every cell in the body is linked to the movements of the earth and the moon,” she said. “It’s a science, there’s a synchronicity to it.”
“There’s an area in the brain called the circadian timer which helps to synchronize the movement and function of every cell in the body to the levels of light and darkness in the environment.” She continues: “So, as the light level drops below a certain limit, it sends a message to the pineal gland through the eyes, and then every cell in the body starts adjusting its functions.”
In other words, our circadian rhythm is essential for regulating the body – including blood pressure, body temperature and hormone production. Sleeping at higher altitudes takes some getting used to. Reduced oxygen levels disrupt sleep and it takes two to three weeks for people new to higher altitudes to adjust to the new environment.
Ideal sleeping hours differ for people based on their age. An infant needs to nap for 12-17 hours, a toddler needs 11-14 hours and the optimum duration for adults is 7-9 hours. A person, who goes sleep deprived for a long, might feel depressed, suffer from memory problems or even fall sick.
A person feels tired and sleepy the most at either 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. This is what usually causes energy to dip post-lunch. The consequences of sleep deprivation are different for all age groups. While adults become sluggish and tired when they have not slept enough, children become hyperactive.
Most sleep-deprived people experience a surge in hunger as their leptin (an appetite-regulating hormone) levels fall. Using gadgets before sleeping can suppress the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) resulting in delayed sleep.
Dr.Ramlakhan outlines the optimum amount of sleep we should be getting before midnight in order to feel rested and refreshed.
“The 90-minute phase before midnight is one of the most powerful phases of sleep because it’s the period where the body is replenished,” she says. “It’s rejuvenated on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally and, I believe, spiritually as well. There’s a lot of healing that takes place in that first phase of sleep.” She also notes how the phase is important for reorganizing the brain and for bringing adrenaline levels down, which is vital if you’re feeling stressed.