Why sleep is critical for your health
With a lack of sleep the last few days because my little guy has been sick, I felt prompted to write this blog. 🙂
I love my sleep, but it can be hard to fit in 8 hours every night, due to many factors.
60% of Canadian adults feel tired most of the time. Many may say that they don’t need much sleep, but research says differently.
When it comes to being healthy, we tend to focus a lot on what we eat and how often we exercise. Sleep is often an oversight and a lack of sleep is easily compensated with caffeinated beverages during the day to allow us to stay alert.
It is important to know that long term sleep deprivation, can contribute to many health conditions:
- Risk of depression
- Decreased Immune Function
- Lack of clarity and focus
- Weight Gain
- Memory impairment
- Cardiovascular and heart disease
If you couple lack of sleep with most of us being stressed 24/7, it is a recipe for disaster! Stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone released by your adrenal glands. Your body normally releases cortisol in the morning with a sharp peak, and those levels fall back down an hour or so later and stay low until the following morning when the process begins all over again. With chronic stress, your cortisol levels stay elevated throughout the day into the evening hours which increases anxiety and may make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult, as melatonin (our hormone that regulates sleep) cannot rise when cortisol is high.
So what are we to do if getting enough sleep is an ongoing issue for you?
- When you feel sleepy at night, don’t ignore this. All work can wait until tomorrow. Allow your body to rest and go to bed (you will be far more productive the next day!). Don’t wait for your second wind to kick in. By staying up later, you are borrowing energy from tomorrow – a vicious cycle you don’t want to get trapped in.
- The blue lights emitted from computers, TV’s and cell phones have a negative affect on us by tricking our brain into thinking it is still daytime, thereby delaying the release of melatonin. Put the technology away and read a book, sip on tea or enjoy a hot bath before bed.
- Put a halt on eating 2 hours before bed to let digestion finish so as to not inhibit sleep.
- Sleep in a completely dark room – or as much as possible. The slightest bit of light (even your clocks) can affect your body’s production of melatonin.
Sleep Better and Feel Better!