We all do it. At least we all attempt to do it. Some of us do it more and longer than others. While many of us attempt to avoid it because it’s frustrating. What am I talking about?
Yes, sleep. Sleep is something that we all enjoyed at one point in our lives. And we still enjoy now, even though a third of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough sleep. We’re too busy working, being busy, trying to maintain the perfect appearance while also attempting to solve the world’s problems, all while lying in bed instead of focusing on getting that shut eye that we need.
I’ve heard countless people tell me, “I wish there were more hours in the day!” And if I asked most of them what they would do in the additional hours, it probably wouldn’t be sleep. It would probably be more running around.
Well, I’m telling you right here, right now, that if you’re not getting at least 6 hours of quality sleep every night, your body and mind are not working at their optimum levels.
“Yea, yea, yea Melissa… it’s just sleep. I can function without sleep. I do it all the time and I’m just fine,” you’re saying under your breath as you’re reading this.
No! You can’t function without sleep. Why? Well for starters, sleep allows your very busy body to reboot and recharge. While you’re sleeping, your body takes care of all of the functions that keeps you running by shedding toxins and replenishing healthy cells. The hormone melatonin is secreted, prompting a key type of immune cell which destroys infected cells, bolstering your immune system. Energy is conserved, muscles are repaired, new tissues are created, protein is built, and growth hormones are released. Many of these functions ONLY happen during sleep!
If that isn’t enough to get you to really focus on getting a good nights rest, what if I told you that lack of sleep causes weight gain?
Yea, now I have your attention.
How is that possible? Well, sleeping is regulated by our circadium rhythm, which follows light and dark. Two hormones, melatonin and cortisol, are released to help you sleep and wake up. In a normal sleep cycle, melatonin gradually ebbs around 4am, while cortisol gradually increases helping you wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Cortisol is also the same hormone that’s secreted when you’re stressed. So when you’re chronically stressed, you’re not sleeping. These two hormones also play a role in weight gain and distribution. When you don’t sleep well over a few consecutive nights, cortisol production increases which encourages your body to store fat in your midsection. When you sleep less, your body burns for soft tissue, aka your muscles, and stores fat which leads to weight gain. And because you’re so tired, you’re probably not hitting the gym with high intensity.
Just four to six hours of sleep will also have negative effects on your appetite hormones, ghrelin, which sends hunger signals and leptin, which sends satiety signals. A study found that over two consecutive nights of four hours of sleep, ghrelin increased by 28% and leptin decreased by 18% compared to those sleeping for ten hours. Those same participants craved energy-dense, high carbohydrate foods to keep them going. Another study found that women who slept for four hours ate 400 calories more per day!
Lack of sleep has also been shown to lead to Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Not to keep the list going, but it’s also terrible for your brain, ruining your ability to make connections and store information while you’re resting.
It’s an activity that many of us see as an after thought. However, it’s a major part of the puzzle of good health. Interested in learning how to get a better night’s sleep? Contact me and I’ll help you get back to dreamland.