Sleep, the key to a successful day

Our daily lives are overloaded with work, meals, sports, children. A life at 100 km/h that can affect our sleep. Fatigue, anxiety, or mood disorders can be signs of a lack of sleep. Half of the French have difficulty falling asleep or going back to sleep and 4 out of 10 people say they suffer from sleep disorders. How to take care of your sleep?

The unknown roles of sleep

Our lives are punctuated by a cycle of wakefulness and sleep, two essential states for our body to function properly. Did you know that a third of our lives are devoted to sleep? It is therefore essential to address this issue.

We think our body is at complete rest during the night. Some functions are active and never stop:

  • Maturation and development of cognitive abilities: learning and memorization mechanisms, mood and stress regulation.
  • Regulation of body temperature.
  • Activation of metabolism for digestion, blood glucose regulation or appetite hormones.
  • Always vigilant immunity: elimination of toxins, stimulation of immune defenses.

Sleep is therefore crucial for our biological functions. A lack of sleep can have consequences on our body. It can simply induce a lack of concentration, efficiency at work or in more serious cases increase the risk of diseases (cardiovascular, obesity and diabetes...).

Sleep, a complex mechanism

Beyond fatigue, lifestyle, the consumption of certain substances (alcohol, drugs) or the environment can influence sleep. The organization also has some responsibility with its circadian system. What does this organization consist of?

Also known as a circadian clock, present in all organisms, this system aims to synchronize the alternation of day and night. This is possible thanks to external factors such as daylight, but also internal factors. The latter intervene to more finely regulate these cycles. The most well-known internal factor is melatonin , also known as the sleep hormone. This hormone allows you to fall asleep. In the dark, melatonin is produced in the brain, which triggers the sleep state. Conversely, when the cells of the retina perceive light, its production is stopped, and the standby state before will resume service.

Sleep is composed of two stages: slow and REM sleep. These states alternate during a 90-minute sleep cycle. Every night, 4 to 6 cycles follow one another continuously. Some explanations:

Slow or deep sleep, composed of three phases:

  • a phase of a few minutes, which is a transition between waking and sleeping,
  • a light sleep,
  • a deep sleep, a few tens of minutes. It is during this period that brain activity and muscle tone slow down.

REM sleep: brain activity is boiling. It is during this phase that we dream! With any luck, you may be able to remember and tell them.

Some tips to get to sleep faster

  1. Respect your sleep cycles: since sleep is punctuated by cycles, it is important to keep regular waking and sleeping times both during the week and at weekends. Sleeping in is more a sign of an imbalance.
  2. Expose yourself to natural light: this light is essential for our circadian clock. Exposure triggers the secretion of hormones that regulate sleep. In winter, the days are shorter, and the light is less bright. The circadian rhythm is therefore shaken up and fatigue arrives. As soon as the sun's rays break through the clouds, a short walk outside can only do you good.
  3. Be physically active: 2 to 3 times a 30-minute week of physical activity can help you stay in shape while bringing with it fatigue for the evening.
  4. Keep up with your meals: As you were told earlier, diet affects the circadian system. Eating at fixed times and having a careful diet is therefore ideal.
  5. Practice relaxation: exhale through your mouth all the air in your lungs. Then close your mouth and breathe in quietly through your nose counting to 4, hold your breath counting to 7, and finally exhale noisily through your mouth counting to 8, repeat this method 3 times and in a few minutes you will be diving into your dreams and peaceful nights will arrive very soon.

To act with your diet, rely on magnesium, which is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. It is found in nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts), legumes, whole grains or chocolate. In other words: enjoy yourself!


[1]Institut National du Sommeil et de la Vigilance, 2019

[2]INSV, les carnets du sommeil, 2018

[3]Inserm, Sommeil, 2017