#0051 Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

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A suprachias what now? What on earth are you going on about now Tom? I’m glad you ask. It is not available on iTunes. You can’t purchase it on Amazon or any other online retailer. You won’t see on the shelves of you supermarket of choice.

They are words that I learned recently in a book written by Matthew Walker. He doesn’t really like being called Professor Walker. He is a scientist. His chosen subject is Sleep. He has written a fascinating book titled Why We Sleep.

The book is in four parts.

  • Part 1. This Thing Called Sleep
  • Part 2. Why Should You Sleep?
  • Part 3. How and Why We Dream
  • Part 4. From Sleeping Pills to Society Transformed

Oh by the way the short answer to Part 2 is because we’ll die if we don’t.

Back to the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. It is a part of our brains. The simplest definition is that it our internal clock. However it is a clock that releases hormones that determine how alert or sleepy we feel. By using the brightness of levels in our surroundings, it syncs our alertness or sleepiness. So what I hear you say. Well this is so what. We have just put back our clocks by one hour a couple of weeks ago. This has already begun to have an effect on the number of hours we have of daylight. As we had into the Winter months. It will worsen. The number of hours becoming less and less. Until we are only getting about 8 hrs if we’re lucky. That doesn’t factor in the weather either which of course we know live here on this island can be utterly unpredictable. We can kind of predict that it almost certain that there will be more overcast days. With grey overhead clouds blockout out the sun than there will be fine days. We can say that because we’ve live here all our lives.

Not only that. Because it is so dreary outside we tend to put on bright light in our homes. That combination then confuses the SN. The hormones it produces get out of whack and you are feeling tired and out of energy during the day when you are working. This continues into our sleep leading to a reduced quality of our sleep. With our brains now sleep deprived it reduces our willpower which in turn becomes procrastination. What is the one thing that we procrastinate the most? Yes you’ve guessed it. Sleep.

We procrastinate developing a cooling down routine that will allow us to fall asleep and stay asleep. Reading about all of these things in Matthew Walker’s book was, if you’ll forgive the pun, a wake up call for me. It took me a couple of months to crack but perseverance paid off as I developed my Night Time Routine.

The light from electronic devices, even for less than a minute can be enough to disturb the ‘go to sleep’ signals our brain sends out. So having no electronic devices or screens on in the bedroom is one of the most important things you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep.

We tend to fall asleep at cooler temperatures. So turning off the heating at least an hour before you go to bed. Will allow the bedroom to come to an ambient temperature that will help you drift off to dreamland.

Having blackout curtains really helps too. I have always been a light sleeper. The tiniest crack of light coming into my room is enough to have up and wide awake. So blackout curtains is essential for me having a good night’s sleep.

Stop eating about a couple of hours before you go to bed. If not then it means that your body will be working overtime digesting food. Which in turns distracts your from the job it should be doing. Getting to sleep and staying asleep.

When you wake in the morning feeling like you’ve hardly had a wind of sleep it most likely because you haven’t allowed sufficient time for you brain to shut down. That means that it has less time in which to carry out its repairs. It carries out vital repairs on our organs. Particularly the liver and kidneys which are primarily responsible for flushing out toxins that may be in our blood and body tissues. Sleep allows the body to moderate and balance our gut biome and lets our brains process all the data that it has received during the day and hasn’t had a chance to do anything with. As it is too busy making sure that the heart keeps pumping blood and we breath in and out.

When we sleep our heart rate decreases and our blood pressure is regulated. Our breathing decreases which allows the body to draw on stored proteins, mitochondria that allow our tissues to draw on the nutrients and the four basic building blocks of our bodies. Adenine, Cytosine,Guanine and Thymine. The chemical building blocks that form our DNA.

All of these measure will also lower the risk of our SN getting out whack in the first place. You will wake up feeling refreshed and energised. It will take time and you will have to become disciplined. The prize is worth it. A lifetime of having a great night’s sleep more often than not. Waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

People will notice and some may even ask you. You can now tell them that it is all to do with Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.

Well, that’s it for another week. Remember to hit the like button and subscribe straight into your inbox for future publications. 

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tomgalewriter

An LGBTQ+ writer living and working in Birmingham UK. A published writer whose new book (due Summer 2022) a memoir tells of how he as a young man in an Edinburgh slum from 1970 - 1990s fought through poverty, violent abuse, the Mormon Church, the British Army, marriage and fatherhood. Whilst all the while struggling to understand his sexuality and inner spirituality leading him to make a decision that could shatter his life and the lives of those he loves most. Will the weight of the past drag him back down? Or will he rise and triumph against all the odds? He has written short stories on of which titled 'Oh Mum' a fiction based on actual events published in an online magazine at http://shortsmagazine.com in the Summer 2021 edition. He has written a clutch of Flash Fiction, poems, a radio comedy, and has a weekly blog on his website http://www.tomgalewriter.com He lives with his partner and are engaged to be married.

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