Image Description

How Sleep Works, and Why It Matters to You

This lesson is a part of an audio course Fixing Your Sleep, Once and For All by Jason Ricci

Hello. Jason, here, from I am a sleep professional who helps people fix their broken sleep. Whether you are a busy professional, a stay at home mom, a tired student, or just someone who struggles with getting a good night's sleep, I can help. I'm glad you were able to find and sign up for this course.

The fact that you did indicates to me that you have trouble sleeping, and that is the worst. I don't want you to have to suffer any more sleepless nights, tossing and turning, trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep... ugh. It is time for a change.

With this course, you will gain the skills needed to really knock this insomnia thing out of the park. This is designed for you to do one lesson a day, but you can do several back to back if you choose. But no matter what you choose, there is something I need from you: COMMITMENT. I know, boring word, right? It conjures up images of prolonged responsibility. But, it's going to be important. Each day, I will teach you something valuable that will aid in your improved sleep. But each day, you need to add on to the previous day's lesson. It sounds like a lot, but stick with it. It will be worth it.

In order to fix any problem, you need to know what is causing the problem. If you know what is preventing you from sleeping, great: start there. But if you are like most people, you aren't really quite sure why you aren't sleeping. That's about to change.

Good sleep hygiene is vital to sleeping well. What I'll be working with you on in the next couple of weeks is taking just one sleep hygiene concept, and digging in deep so you can maximize that concept, apply it, and systematically improve your sleep.

I think most people would agree that sleep is important, but a lot of people don't know how sleep actually works. Just like knowing how an engine works are vital for a mechanic to know how to fix one, knowing how sleep works can help you to fix your sleep. To understand how sleep works, you need to understand the sleep/wake cycle called Circadian Rhythms. Circadian Rhythms don’t only influence sleep. They influence other body functions as well, such as organ functions, and metabolism. To understand Circadian Rhythms and how to influence them, you need to know about two major components of Circadian Rhythms: Melatonin and the Pineal Gland.


I’m sure you’ve probably heard the word melatonin before. You may even recognize it as an over the counter natural supplement to help with sleep. It actually is a hormone that your body produces on its own. More specifically, the pineal gland in your brain produces it.

The amount of melatonin in your system determines if you feel sleepy or awake. When there is more melatonin in your bloodstream, your brain tells you that you are sleepy, and your body begins to prepare for sleep. As melatonin decreases in your bloodstream, your body begins the process of waking up. The most melatonin in your body happens (naturally) at nighttime. When we are exposed to light, melatonin production is low or stopped. When it is dark, our pineal gland starts producing more melatonin.

The Pineal Gland

The pineal gland is not the only part of the brain responsible for sleep, though. It is just the factory worker producing what the foreman tells it to. In this illustration, the foreman is the hypothalamus, another part of the brain. When light (or darkness) enters your eyes, the hypothalamus then sends the message to the pineal gland, telling it how much melatonin to produce. More light, less melatonin. Less light, more melatonin. This sleep/wake cycle goes back and forth and is known collectively as the circadian rhythm.

Circadian Rhythms

Now that we understand what drives the sleep/wake cycle, we know how to manipulate it. Circadian Rhythms are effected by a few different things; mostly the environment around us, but also from stimuli or substances we expose ourselves to. The first, and probably strongest, factor in determining circadian rhythms is sunlight. Others include temperature, moonlight, blue light, stimulants, and alcohol. In later lessons, I will go over each of these in more detail. But in the meantime, get as much sunlight as you can during the day, sleep in a cool room, and stay away from everything else on that list.

Today's lesson was meant to give you some background. In the rest of the lessons, I will teach you things you can actually DO to improve sleep. The next lesson is entitled "You Need a Bedtime." In it, we will learn about the importance of bedtimes. Until then, Happy Zzz's...

Image Description
Written by

Jason Ricci

Related courses