SLEEP – THE WONDER DRUG
9 Reasons You Need More Sleep Now
If there is ever a minor health problem plaguing a friend or family member I immediately tell them to go to bed, rest for the day, your body needs it. I am kind of like Gus, the father character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding whose answer to every ailment is to “Put some Windex on it!”
In all seriousness, the fact that many of us go around sleep deprived is scary news for our health, our safety, and our memories. Here’s an interesting statistic for you:
“In 1960, a survey of over 1 million people found a modal sleep duration of 8.0-8.9 hours. In 2000, 2001, and 2002, polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicated that the average duration of sleep for Americans had fallen to 6.9-7.0 hours. Overall, sleep duration thus appears to have decreased by 1.5-2 hours during the second half of the 20th century. Today, many people are in bed only 5-6 hours per night on a regular basis.” From MedScape.org
Are you someone who routinely skimps on sleep? Do you even brag about the 5 hours you logged last night?
Well, it might be part of the reason your weight-loss goals are stunted. Lack of sleep might also be the reason for numerous other chronic and frustrating ailments in your life. Here are 9 reasons why sleep is not a waste of time and why making it a priority is a good idea!
1. It’s Dangerous Not To Sleep – For You and Those Around You
Our bodies are such efficient machines that you skimp on sleep for even a few days, our brains can create a symptom called microsleep. It’s a huge danger for sleep-deprived drivers to experience microsleep and put themselves and others at huge risk.
2. Sleep Supports Weight Loss & Weight Maintenance
Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hunger (ghrelin) or satisfied (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep you ghrelin levels rise and you leptin levels plummet. This results in you having strong feelings of hunger and maybe even stronger cravings when you are sleep-deprived.
Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar (glucose) level. A lack of sleep means a higher than normal blood sugar level, which can lead to an increased risk for diabetes.
When you are well-rested your body is able to function maximally helping your weight-loss or weight maintenance efforts.
3. Supports a Stronger Immune System
One research study sited on WEBMD.com, tested those who slept more than 7-hours to those who slept less than 7-hours when exposed to the common cold-virus. Those sleeping longer than 7-hours were three-times less likely to get the cold. More research is needed to find a conclusive link, but an 8-hour rest appears to only help immune function and body repair.
4. Better Memory
Sleep helps the brain consolidate memories (i.e. new things you’ve learned) without proper amounts of sleep times the brain can jumble, lose, or even develop false memories.
5. A Better Sex Life
It’s the oldest excuse in the book “Not tonight, I am too tired” but sadly 26% of Americans admit their sex-lives are affected by being just too tired. WEBMD.com notes that there could be a link to lowered testosterone levels in sleep-deprived men, further complicating their sex-lives.
6. Less Pain
Studies have shown a link between less sleep and lowered pain tolerance. Getting enough pain may actually help you hurt less. This is good news for those suffering from an athletic injury like a sprained ankle. Chronic and intense pain can keep you awake, so talk to you doctor about medications that ease pain and encourage sleep.
7. Better Mood
Getting enough sleep helps regulate your emotions. Sleep will aid in a mindful attempt to manage and control your emotions in a healthy manner. Lack of sleep makes it very hard to manage crankiness and a mind that tends to worry.
8. Clearer Thought Processes
Studies have shown people who are sleep-deprived, struggle to solve logic or mathematical problems opposed to when they are well-rested. Sleep deprivation is also likely to lead to odd mistakes like putting your keys in the fridge or some other impossible-to-find-location. Do yourself a favor: get more sleep and save time hunting for your keys and glasses.
9. A Longer Life, or at least a Happier One
Isn’t this what we all want to hear?! Of course, nothing is guaranteed but sleeping better indicates that you live better.
To conclude my lecture on why sleep is so important, I acknowledge that there is a lot more to simply going to bed earlier. I encourage you to have an honest look at your sleep patterns, your habitual health issues, and moods. I will be writing a follow-up post on how to start developing new habits in your daily routine to encourage sleep. Remember, I hold to the philosophy that something is better than nothing and if you can get to bed 15 minutes earlier and shut down the electronic device 15 minutes earlier than that – it’s a start. It’s the commitment to your health that matters, not the exact approach you take to achieve results.
Good night and sleep tight, my friends.