Sleep is critical to your overall health, so why is it that our society seems to place a badge of honor on those who don't get enough sleep?
"Oh, I can function just fine on 4 hours of sleep a night!"
Don't kid yourself.
I've got news for you - you need to sleep, and sleep a lot more than you may be thinking! And, when you do start to sleep more and place more emphasis on making sleep a priority for you, you will be healthier and feel amazing!
If you are feeling run-down, struggling to focus, or feeling irritable for no reason, it's time to take a hard look at your sleep habits and consider making some changes.
Yes, change is hard, but what if this change could leave you feeling refreshed, focused, and excited to move through your day?
Let's explore what sleep could do for you and your body. Could it be the change you are looking for?
The Importance of Quality Sleep
Our body performs critical functions at night while we are sleeping, including:
1. Internal organs rest and recover. Tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur during sleep.
2. Hormones are released and help to regulate appetite, stress, growth, metabolism, and other bodily functions.
3. Memory consolidation occurs, allowing for the formation and storage of memories, which is essential for learning, retaining, and comprehending new information.
The Benefits of Quality Sleep
Increased energy to make smart lifestyle choices
Strengthened immune system
Heightened alertness, focus, and creativity
Improved mood by reducing anxiety, irritability, and mental exhaustion
Better overall hormonal health
How Sleep Deprivation Affects You
The list is endless as to the effects (both short- and long-term) of sleep deprivation, and most of these effects vary from person to person. Here are some of the symptoms you may start to notice.
1. You are more likely to gain weight or hold onto excess weight.
Leptin, your satiety hormone, is significantly reduced when you are sleep deprived. Since leptin plays an important role in appetite control and metabolism, having low levels of this hormone results in hunger not being naturally suppressed. Therefore your appetite and cravings increase.
2. You are at a higher risk for illness.
Your body is more susceptible to stress without a good night’s sleep. The immune system does not function optimally, and inflammatory proteins and blood sugar levels rise in response to lower levels of insulin being released throughout the night. All of these negative effects on the body contribute to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and infection.
3. Your risk of injury increases.
When you are exhausted, both physically and mentally, there is an increased risk of injury, errors, and accidents. This tired state of mind may lead to mishaps like stubbing your toe, cutting yourself in the kitchen, or getting into a car accident.
4. Your brain does not function optimally.
There are measurable changes in brain activity that occur after a period of sleep deprivation. When you do not get a sufficient amount of sleep, your mental performance suffers, impairing your ability to process new information and memories and impacting your overall mood, focus, and high-level cognitive function.
5. You are more likely to struggle with your emotions.
Without sufficient rest, you may have trouble keeping your emotions in check. Increased feelings of irritability, anxiety, sadness, and anger are common. You may even find that you are more vulnerable to unprovoked bouts of laughter or tears.
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
Everyone needs sleep to be in optimal health, but the number of hours vary by age group and individual. Experiment with adding more sleep and changing your sleep patterns to find what suits your specific needs. Use this chart as a guide for you and your family.
Follow These Steps Toward Better Sleep
It's time to get serious about your health and your sleep. It's vital to your safety, productivity, and overall health that your body deserves!
Maintain a consistent daily waking and bedtime schedule
Reduce your daily intake of caffeine
Turn off the computer and TV 1 hour before bed
Eat a small bit of fat (nuts, avocado, butter, almond butter) and carbs (fruit, veggies, potatoes) before bed to help keep your blood sugar stable
Engage in regular exercise
Limit your liquid consumption before bed
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet