While You Were Sleeping: Sleep and Your Overall Health
If you get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night, you sleep for 229,961 hours of your lifetime.
Well yes, this is an essential evolutionary paradox and for many a favorite pastime – us included.
In our previous blog SWEET DREAMS & YOUR HORMONES we delved into the quality of sleep and how our hormones help and hinder us, and we unpacked the adverse effect of skimping on sleep.
We are now taking a closer look at what happens to our bodies, namely our vaginas, while we sleep! YES! There is quite a lot going on down there.
But first, more on sleep.
Sleep varies significantly depending on an individual or even the night in question. Sleep typically is like a cycle that moves in sequence through stages of sleep.
Sleep is divided into 4 stages and plays a vital role in maintaining your overall health.
Awake: Referring to a natural break in sleep, this can also be the time spent in bed before and after falling asleep. This includes brief moments of awakeness during sleep.
REM: Rapid Eye Movement stage is what re-energizes your mind. Respiration and heart rate increases, vivid dreams can occur, the body becomes immobile to prevent you from acting out in dreams, and temperature regulation is switched off. This stage is beneficial for learning, memory, and problem solving.
Light Sleep: Light sleep guides you into deeper stages of sleep. At this stage muscles relax and may jerk, breathing and heart rate slows, body temperature drops and transition between cycles begin. Waking up is easier during this stage.
Deep Sleep: This stage of sleep focuses on restoring the body. Blood pressure drops, the body commences muscle growth and repair, as blood flow increases to muscles, growth hormone is released and tissue growth and cell repair begins. The brain flushes waste and records long and slow brain waves. Waking up during this stage is difficult, when you are awoken you will feel disoriented and groggy.
Image credits: ouraring.com
Think of sleep like a rollercoaster ride on a repeat for 3 to 5 cycles during a typical night’s sleep. Your body goes through 90-minute cycles of wake, light sleep, deep sleep, REM – Repeat! Early cycles will feature more deep sleep, while later cycles have more REM, and during the latter cycles the body may choose to skip deep sleep completely. Your body will spend most time in light sleep.
Curious to find out more about your individual sleep cycle? We love the app SleepCycle which tracks and analyzes your sleep and wakes you at the perfect time, so you wake up feeling rested. It gives you great insight with your sleep journal.
Now that you have understood sleep – on to the juicy bits about your lady bits!
Your vagina’s nocturnal activity can leave you quite surprised. There is a lot that goes on down there, especially during the REM sleep phase.
“Morning Glory” or “Morning Wood” are phases we use to describe a male penile erection during sleep. Technically referred to as ‘Nocturnal Penile Tumescence.’ Similarly, for us ladies the term is 'Nocturnal Clitoral Tumescence' (NTC), which is a spontaneous swelling of the clitoris during sleep or when waking up.
This happens during REM when there is free flowing blood to the genitalia. For us ladies, another effect of NTC is that women are more likely to have an orgasm during this time although you may not remember it. This is perhaps one reason you awake feeling aroused. Often NCT and orgasms happen, and your brain is not even involved.
With all this activity, it's natural that your vagina can get a little sweaty, and sometimes hot and happy. But sweat or moisture can also provide a great breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to yeast infections.
So, let your lady bits breathe at night!
If you have inhibitions about sleeping in the buff (a.k.a kids, roommates), think loose fitting cotton options allowing plenty of air flow around the vulva.
Since the vagina can get sweaty at night, or “Hot and Happy” as we mentioned above, a morning freshening-up is recommended, especially with the warm summer weather. Your intimate skin will need all the moisture it can get to keep feeling fresh and healthy. Incorporate Rejuvenate Intimate Area Moisturizer into your daily routine, in the morning as you step out of the shower and during your bedtime routine to wind-down and relax. Sleep is the time your body works on regenerating and repairing itself. So, help her along by providing her with vitamins A, E and F, antioxidant vitamins in your REJUCREAM that promotes circulation and healthy skin cell growth.