This is probably the most important of the four components. However, all (or most) of the pathways associated with this component have an elusive and often indirect impact on sleep quality. This first component is elusive because most of these pathways involve the whole body and the whole day (and for that matter one’s entire life). Using fancier terms, these pathways tend to be holistic in nature and impact in a systemic manner. Many of these component one pathways are also likely to have an indirect impact on sleep quality. It’s like a billiard table – there are a lot of impacts that bounce off one wall (e.g. the heart) and then off a second wall (e.g. the impact of shifting heart rate on one’s capacity to relax) and finally drop into the intended pocket (quality of sleep).
It gets even more indirect (and complicated) because the impact might be delayed by many hours. For example, our exercise in the morning can influence our ability to fall asleep many hours later. One can rightfully ask: how does all of this work? Why does something I do to my body in the early morning (exercise) somehow influence what happens to my body many hours later (as I am attempting to fall asleep)? I am not going to get into much detail about the physiological mechanisms involved—given that this isn’t a neurophysiology course (and frankly I am no expert on these matters). I will present a few ideas regarding how this delay mechanism works as a way of helping us all some to appreciate the power inherent in many of the pathways associated with component one.
Component One Assessments
I will be providing an overall assessment regarding each of the four components. In several cases, the assessment will be controversial. There will be high levels of variance in the ratings of experts and users – and every major variance regarding cost and accessibility. This is NOT the case with the first component. This is the most obvious and most often recommended set of pathways to sleep. Following is this overall assessment:
Highly rated by experts
Highly rated by users
Cost: not much in terms of cash outlay; but can be quite “costly” in terms of time spent being healthy.
Access: it’s your body and you can take care of it if you choose: thus, highly accessible in most instances