Let’s Get Better Sleep

Sleep can take up to 1/4 to 1/3 of our day and often people complain that their sleep quality is not great. It is a vital part of our day and it’s vital that we get enough deep sleep to help detox our brain and clear our mind.

In this blog we are going to talk about what a neuroscientist has found in how the brain detoxes and we chat about:

  1. The system the brain uses to detox and clear out waste
  2. Four stages 
  3. How much deep sleep should we get
  4. Benefits 
  5. How can we get more deep sleep                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

    1. The system that detoxes the brain     

    Our brain uses 1/4 of body’s energy supply even though it accounts for only 2% of body’s weight. It has a very important job of controlling the body, it is our master system that sends messages to our cells, tissues and organs.

Blood vessels supply nutrients and oxygen to every cell in brain and body. When our cells needs to get rid of byproducts and waste, it does that through the lymphatic system, running parallel to the circulatory system.

The brain has no lymphatic system, so how does it clean out?

What happens it the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the fluid around the brain plays an important part in clearing waste in the brain. The CSF rushes along the blood vessels from the outside of the brain into the brain.

The most fascinating thing that neuroscientist Jeff Illiff and his team found that this only happened  during sleep. The brain cells shrink, giving the CSF more space to clear out the waste in the brain.

2. Four stages of Sleep

  •  1 Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) This stage lasts several minutes from when the body goes from a wakeful state to one of sleep.
  •  2 Non-REM The body relaxes, heart rate is reduced in this stage of sleep.
  •  3 Non-REM This is a deep sleep where the body is very relaxed and the brain waves are at its slowest, in the delta wavelength. Heart rate, breathing and body temperature drop to their lowest during the night’s sleep. Healthy adults need 13-23 percent of their sleep dedicated to deep sleep. For an 8 hour sleep that works out to 62-112 minutes a night. (1)
  •  4 REM sleep. During this state is when the brain does most of the dreaming. Muscles of the legs are arms are paralysed so you don’t act out your dreams.

3. How much sleep should we get?

  • Birth to 3 months: 14-17 hours
  • 4-11 months: 12-16 hours
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years:1013 hours
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
  • 18-64 years:7-9 hours65 plus: 7-8 hours

4.  The Benefits 

During the day our brain is busy, whether it is occupied with work, exercise, cooking or watching your favourite box set. It is occupied. It’s during the night time that the brain can do its chores.

As well as detoxing the brain, here are a few other activities that take place in the brain during deep sleep:

  • Consolidation of memories
  • Healing of muscles, ligaments etc from daily exercise and activities
  • Immune system repairs
  • Processing of emotions and learning
  •  Hormones are secreted for growth

5. How can we get more deep sleep

Getting more rest sounds simple, however, there are many factors to take into consideration. Pick one aspect and work on that before you take on another task. For example, if you need to increase exercise, give yourself 8 weeks to get into a sport or activity that you enjoy, then work on your diet for example.

Here are a few ideas for you to try:

  • Exercise 30 minutes a day aerobically
  • Avoid electronic devices 2 hours before bed
  • Omit bread, pasta, rice and other carbohydrates for dinner and evening snacks
  • Have caffeinated drinks until lunchtime
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Go for a gentle walk before bed
  • Meditate
  • Have a warm bath
  • Use calming essential oils (check oils if you are pregnant or have a medical condition)
  • Have room dark, use heavy blinds
  • Keep a bedtime diary
  • Check with your chiropractor or osteopath about your pillow and mattress selection
  • Back and neck pain can effect rest, see your practitioner


1.Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: An unmet public health problem. (2006)


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