Getting enough sleep is extremely important for your health. It’s the one thing you can do to ensure that your body can operate effectively. Everyone can relate to the feeling of being sleep deprived; how it muddles up your brain, impairs your speech capabilities, you feel endlessly hungry and stressed. Here are 5 reasons why you should dedicate a full 8 hours to sleeping every night.
Getting more sleep makes you feel better emotionally. One Harvard study shows that chronic insomnia can increase the risk of developing a mood disorder as well they’ve found that poor or inadequate sleep can contribute to irritability and stress (1). When we feel tired we are more likely to lash out at someone or lose our inability to deal with everyday stress. Our bodies are designed to recuperate during sleep and when this process isn’t able to fully finish it puts additional stress on all areas of our system causing more stress and a wearing down of the ability to deal with normal stress load.
2. Hormone Regulation
Our body is designed to operate on it’s own, without your conscious control. It’s like a machine with it’s own set of timers and alarms. You never have to tell your pituitary to release hormones, it just does it on it’s own. Your internal clock, by which your organs respond to, is also known as a circadian rhythm which dictates your natural sleep/wake cycle. This is how your organs know when to release hormones. One study found that sleep disturbance or a disturbance in your organic circadian rhythm directly effects hormone secretion (2). Sleep, or lack thereof also contributes to posture, behavior and light exposure which all effect our natural hormone production.
3. Weight Control, Appetite & Energy
This goes with the last point about hormone regulation because we have a hormone called leptin produced by fat cells that regulate your feeling of hunger. When we sleep less this hormone becomes deregulated which can contribute to eating more. One study found a strong correlation between sleeping less and weight gain in shift workers in respect to this naturally regulated hormone. (3) It is easy to understand that a lack of sleep will negatively effect our body’s energy. When we have a poor sleep we feel tired, lethargic and lazy. We want to do less, eat more and lay around. Getting good quality and length of sleep will provide our bodies with the energy we need to live happy and fulfilled lives.
One of the best ways you can boost your immune system is by getting enough good quality sleep. Our immune cells also work around a circadian rhythm and function better when our entire body is rested and recuperated. As mentioned in this blog by Dr. Kent, a recent study shows that those who only receive 7 hours or less of sleep each night were 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those participants who achieved 8 hours.
When we go to sleep our bodies stay at work, cleaning, reorganizing, storing memories, and moving toxins around. In fact, sleep is one of the only times that our brains can detoxify. Just like any other organ our brains create toxins from operating however unlike our other organs the brain is at the top, therefore it’s more difficult for fluid to retract toxins from the brain. While we are horizontal our cerebral spinal fluid is able to flow into the brain and pull out toxic debris. For a detailed explanation about this check out this terrific TedTalk video.
Finally, as seen in this blog about the connection between sleep and the liver, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the liver is most active between the hours of 1am and 3am, while we are sleeping. It could be assumed that the liver functions optimally when you are resting and not bombarding it with additional toxins.
Sleep is not only for babies and skipping out on sleep is not okay even if you are in your 20’s. The old saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is probably the most detrimental way of thinking possible. Your body needs sleep like it needs food, without it your organs malfunction, your brain can have a meltdown, and your chances of obesity increase. If you want to lose weight, feel happy, and improve memory you don’t have to reach for another pill you only have to get a good nights sleep.
5 tips for a better sleep
- Turn off all electronics 2 hours before bedtime. Read a book, hang out with loved ones, but get that bright screen away from your eyes.
- Create a routine. Drink a cup of herbal tea, meditate, or have a basic bedtime routine like you would with a child. This indicates to the body that it’s time to wind down.
- Stay away from emails and work before bed. Enjoy light reading that will relax the body not cause the brain to over think or become stressed.
- Make your bed inviting and relaxing. Having scents involved like lavender or chamomile will relax the central nervous system.
- If you do all this and you still can’t catch some Z’s than stop by your local health food store and find a sleep supplement that can aid you in a good quality sleep. Examples include valerian root, melatonin, l-theanine or passion flower. Non addictive and helpful in the ultimate quest for a full, good quality sleep.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, CHN™ and have a transcript in Iridology from the Canadian Institute of Iridology. I achieved my diploma with honors in holistic nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Calgary, Alberta. My vast knowledge of supplementation has been acquired from working in naturopathic clinics, health food stores and ongoing education through webinars, books and podcasts. It is important to me to have up to date information on the newest nutritional research and popular diets. I have also completed my 200hr yoga teacher training in Brazil in 2013 with Define Yoga.