Ahhh, bedtime. Our favorite time of day...or night, right? Just like water, it's essential to our survival. And again, just like water, too little or low quality sleep can be seriously bad for your health. I'm going to talk about the reasons you probably haven't thought of as to why sleep is so important.
The amount and quality of your sleep directly impacts your metabolism and hormones related to hunger and satiation. Too little sleep increases your levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for making you feel hungry and initiate eating. At the same time, your leptin levels are decreased, which are the hormones that make you feel full or satisfied. You can easily see the connection these have to overeating, and therefore adding fat mass to the body. The hormone, cortisol, is also increased when we don't get enough sleep. Cortisol is commonly known as the "stress" hormone and a high level of cortisol is directly related to increased fat storage, particularly around the middle.
2. Brain Function
This one is a little more obvious, but did you know that decreased sleep causes your brain to forget things more easily, and actually make it more difficult to form new memories? While we sleep, our brain uses that time to get rid of old, damaged cells. Our awake brain has a much harder time performing that task. Just like the function our kidneys have in cleaning the blood of toxins, our brain has a system to take care of its own housekeeping. It also uses our sleeping time to store memories into their appropriate categories, making it easier to remember things after a good night's sleep. A well-slept brain is also one that makes better decisions and pays closer attention to tasks. Many more mistakes and accidents occur as a result of sleep deprivation.
Not getting enough sleep can greatly impair your immune system's ability to fight off disease and illness. As I stated before, your brain is active in keeping itself clean and organized while you sleep. Included in this cleaning is the flushing of the protein, beta-amyloid. A buildup of beta-amyloid causes the plaque responsible for Alzheimer's disease. Your body is also doing some housework while you're asleep. Several systems in your body are clearing out toxins and attackers that can cause cancer, infection, and illness.
Heart disease and high blood pressure are also side effects of decreased sleep. Your heart doesn't have the change to rest and reset, and let's face it, if you're not getting enough sleep, you're probably drinking a lot of caffeine, causing your heart to do some crazy stuff.
So what do we do to increase the amount and quality of our sleep???
Here's a list of a few things you can start implementing daily:
1. Get Enough Exercise
2. Drink Plenty of Water
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
4. Limit Your Screen Time Before Bedtime
5. Drink Caffeine-Free Tea Close to Bedtime
6. Take Non-Habit Forming Sleep Aids, Like Melatonin or Valerian Root
7. Build a Nightly Routine That Gets Your Body Relaxed and Ready to Sleep
Please like this post and comment below with things that have helped you get a better night's sleep.