Truth be told, I’ve never been a great sleeper. I’ve had to work really hard at it. It seems like one of those things that should be easy, right? Not for me. So if you struggle to get a good night sleep or want to know more about the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do for your health then please read on!
YOU GOTTA GET YOURSELF IN THE BED AND SLEEP!
Sleep seems to be the one thing that wellness experts agree on. While you could read 10 different health and wellness books and you may get completely different information on the proper nutritional plan to follow, everyone agrees that sleep is crucial to your health.
How much sleep do we need?
The recommended amount for an adult is 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
(If you have little ones at home, please reference this research paper; it’s crucial for their growth and development that they get enough sleep too).
What happens during sleep?
Sleep gives your body the opportunity to repair and recover. Your breathing and heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops, your muscles relax, and energy is restored. You release hormones essential for growth and development (including muscle development). Every 90 minutes (25% of sleep) your body goes through REM sleep and during this time your brain is very active and dreams occur. This portion of sleep provides energy to your brain and body and gives you the ability to “practice” skills you learned during the day.
What happens to our overall health when we don’t sleep enough?
According to the National Institutes of Health:
1. Sleep is critical for brain health. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn, strengthen memories and be creative. Sleep deficiency alters activity in the brain leading to trouble making decisions, solving problems, and paying attention.
2. Sleep plays a part in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
3. Sleep helps with your emotional and behavioral regulation. Sleep deprivation can cause moodiness and irritability. It’s even been linked to depression and suicide.
4. Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sleep deficiency results in higher than normal blood sugar levels.
5. The immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. Sleep deficiency makes it hard to fight common infections.
6. People whom are sleep deficient take longer to finish tasks, have slower reaction times, and make more mistakes.
How does sleep impact our weight?
Sleep helps balance your appetite by regulating the hormone levels of ghrelin and leptin which play a role in hunger and fullness. During sleep your leptin levels naturally rise. If weight loss is your goal then listen carefully to this one: if you cut your sleep short, your body tries to adjust by making you hungry again. HOLY COW, yes — you read that right.
Research has found that shorter sleep periods (6 hours or less):
1.) Lowers overall daily leptin levels
2.) Cause an increase in appetite
3.) And even make people crave carbs and other fattening foods
When you deprive yourself of a good night’s sleep, your hormones will FORCE you to want to eat more food.
I invite (ok politely challenge!) you to log 8 hours of sleep tonight. Then let me know how you feel! Was it easier to eat healthy? Were your workouts better? Were you less moody or more productive? Let me know how it goes!
To Your Amazing Health,