Everybody who knows me knows that I am a “Health Nerd,” I am always looking for new discoveries, supplements and technology that can help us all live a healthier life…
A few years back I read of a new system that was being developed that would read my brainwaves while I slept and awaken me at the perfect time in my sleep cycle so that I would wake with more energy and vitality. I know, it sounds like Star Trek technology…
A little background…
You see, as soon as you fall asleep your body begins a cycle where it flows through different levels from wakefulness to deep sleep Simplified stages include: REM sleep (where you dream), deep sleep and light sleep.
Scientists have discovered that each stage of sleep has a different purpose as it pertains to health. For example, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is a stage where the brain discards useless information learned throughout the day and helps to file important memories. People who do not get enough REM sleep have difficulty with cognition and memory.
Deep sleep is a stage where your body repairs and regenerates body tissues and people who are deprived of deep sleep feel run down, lack energy, vitality and are prone to sickness and disease.
Ok, enough background, onto my discovery…
Needless to say, finally the machine was released to market and of course I was one of the first to get it. The machine, called the ZEO, is based on the same technology used in sleep labs which monitor brainwaves through special wireless electrodes.
At night, I wear a headband containing electrodes that wirelessly transmit my brainwaves to a small clock-like unit next to my bed. Maybe, I’ll talk more about the ZEO in a future blog…for now just know that the unit shows me how much time I spent in each stage of sleep allowing me to know where I am deficient and where I am abundant. The unit also wakes me during a time in the cycle when I am more likely to feel awake and vital. So, let me tell you how I did last night.
Last night I was surprised that I spent a lot of time in REM sleep and little time in deep sleep. In fact, last night I spent almost a third less time in deep sleep than I did every other night since the unit arrived. In addition, I admit that I felt a bit run down this morning.
It’s important to note that if I had this same sleep pattern night after night, my body would not fully repair and over time my tissues would become dysfunctional, resulting in sickness or chronic illness.
Good thing for me, this lack of deep sleep is the exception and not the rule. So what went wrong last night?
I knew immediately what had occurred that caused me to have a deficit of rejuvenating deep sleep…
Last night was a bit of a late night for me, however, this was only a small part of the problem. I know this because other nights had been late nights and I had not suffered the same degree of deep sleep deficit as I had last night. What made this night different was I had eaten a large, unhealthy meal prior to bed. I am too embarrassed to give details of just how unhealthy the meal was but just know for now, it was not a shining moment of health for me. Anyway, here’s what happened…
Your body has limited resources and thus it must dedicate precious resources to various systems at one time. At night, your body wants to dedicate as many of these resources to repair and regeneration as possible. Eating a big meal before bed forces the body to dedicate many of these resources to digestion rather than repair and thus your body suffers.
Night after night I noticed that the majority of the deep sleep would occur in the first third of sleep. After the first few hours of sleep, very little deep sleep occurs and more is devoted to REM sleep. This makes good sense as our prehistoric body really does not know if sleep will be interrupted by attacking lions or village drama and thus it needs to get the majority of repair done as early as possible.
This, unfortunately, does not benefit the person who eats before bed as these first few hours, when deep sleep occurs, will be dedicated to digestion. By the time digestion is complete, the optimal deep sleep time has passed. So what is the moral of this story?
Don’t eat before bed! For the love of your body, refrain from eating 3 hours before bed so that you can enjoy more rejuvenating sleep. I learned my lesson last night and I hope that you will benefit from the wisdom that has been entrusted to me by my ZEO Sleep Machine. This lesson alone was worth the nearly $400 dollar price tag that I paid to quench my high tech appetite. I hope that I will continue to learn how my lifestyle impacts the quality of sleep and overall health. As I learn more, I will bring these lessons to you.
What if you suffer with severe hunger pangs at night?
Please know that it’s unnatural for your body to want food at night. This indicates biochemical imbalances that need to be addressed. Often people’s hunger is really a sign of dehydration and simply drinking a big glass of water will ward off these stomach knots.
If this doesn’t do it then I would recommend playing with different foods. I feel that a little fruit or veggies before bed will not interfere too much with deep sleep as these foods digest easily and quickly. I plan on testing this in the future by eating some fruit or veggies before bed and testing how my sleep pattern is affected. I will also test a high protein meal prior to bed. I will let you know how things turn out. For now, try not to eat 3 hours before bed and if you must eat, have a food that is easy for your body to digest so that deep sleep is not affected.
Do I recommend people get their own ZEO?
Believe it or not, I do not recommend people get a ZEO sleep system as of yet. It’s an interesting unit and personally I love to experiment with it but I am a bit more geeky and motivated than the average bear. The head band is a bit uncomfortable (although much more comfortable than expected) and the unit is quite expensive. I will report back to you in the future after I have more experience with it.