Good sleep is the cornerstone of great health. It is so important for so many reasons and I truly believe magic happens when you are asleep. It’s like when the Tooth fairy and Santa come in the middle of the night, well a bucket load of cool stuff happens in our bodies when we are asleep too. Sounds amazing I know but how much sleep do we need I hear you ask.
Well there is plenty of research that has proven that we need 7 – 8 hours sleep. I tend to lean towards more is always better because our bodies need the time to get all of these cool things done.
When we get enough sleep we feel great, energised and revitalised and that’s because the body goes into rebuilding, repairing, detoxing, processing and regulating mode. Research suggests that sleep is involved in memory processing, learning, immunity, mental relaxation, hormone regulation and repair of the body.
Studies have shown that 4 – 6 hours of sleep per night will result in a sleep debt. This is because you aren’t obtaining enough restorative sleep and all its benefits. It’s a bit like a debt you owe the bank it must be paid back at some time or there will be consequences.
I think we can all relate when we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t feel the best but here is what happens when we don’t get enough snooze time –
Decreased psychological repair and lowered mood- People with sleep debt have described the following feelings of being unhappy, tired, anxious, sluggish, nervous, difficulty in concentration, inability to make decisions, not feeling alert, not confident, depressed or not being successful at work.
Decreased physical repair and lowered immunity- How often have you experienced a cold after you’ve had a run of late nights?
Increased fat mass– The reasons for this include there is 40% reduction in rate of glucose clearance, 30% reduction in insulin effectiveness and our appetite hormones get all screwed up. Have you ever noticed when your tired you just want to do a bit more munching?
Decrease thyroid hormone production– This will lower metabolism, make us feel tired and will increase fat mass.
Increased evening cortisol– Get this! Elevated cortisol prevents you from falling asleep, so this can create a vicious cycle and guess what this also increases fat mass.
Decreased memory, decreased cognitive and decision-making skills- Good luck in those exams after all those all-nighters you spent studying.
Increased inflammation– We know now that inflammation is the major driver of most chronic diseases such as Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Obesity and Mental illness.
So, set your clock not just for when you need to get up in the morning but set your alarm half an hour before you need to go to bed to get your 8 hours of sleep. In this half hour before bed time turn of electronics, grab yourself a cup of chamomile tea and prepare yourself to go on a magical rejuvenation ride we call sleep.
Blog contributed by Natalie McGrath.
Natalie McGrath is a highly qualified naturopath with a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology. She has over 13 years in clinic experience and works in a busy Perth based practise. She is also a Lecturer at the Endeavour Naturopathic College. She is a specialist in treating female health and thyroid issues and her mission is to inspire wellness by tapping into people’s innate healing force by using the latest naturopathic medicine.