Why is sleep so important?!
Sleep is one of the most important things we need for our body. It is also one of the important aspects of living a healthy lifestyle many of us are deprived of or do not get enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), millions of people do not get enough sleep and suffer for it. Based on a study between the years of 1999 and 2004, 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different types of sleep disorders. This study also includes 60% of adults reported trouble sleeping at least a few nights a week or more, 40% of adults suffer from daytime sleepiness at least a few days every month to the point where it interferes with their lifestyle, 69% of children reported sleeping problems a few nights or more during the week.
Sleep is important:
Improves and balances Mood
Healthy brain function
May help increase lifespan
Improve quality of life
Lack of sleep Causes:
Decreases quality of life
Higher levels of stress
High blood pressure
Increases inflammation in the body
Lack of learning and attentiveness
Decreases quality of work
Decreases healing and repair of cells, tissues, muscles, blood vessels, organs
The reason for sleep is to give our body a break, shut down the brain, and allow for a total reset. Think of your cell phone, constantly running on battery without a charger. Eventually your phone will shut down because the battery died and ran out of energy to stay on. Your body functions the same way. Your body has a rhythm of sleep. This rhythm of sleep, known as circadium rhythm is important for the function of every organ in your body. Circadium rhythm is important for learning, memory, regulation of hormones, regulates energy and healthy production and function of cells. Without these important factors, oxidative stress, inflammation and disease begin to occur.
Shortened sleep alters the endocrine system (the system that secretes hormones directly into the circulatory system) from working the way it is naturally supposed to. Healthy endocrine function regulates hunger and appetite. When the endocrine system is not working properly, the hormones that affect and control appetite start to take over. This may promote increased consumption, or excessive energy intake, increasing caloric intake eventually turned into increased weight gain and adiposity. Promotion of obesity is possible with sleep deprivation. Working a job with infrequent shifts or being exposed to bright lights at night increases your chances of disrupting your circadian rhythm, enhancing the prevalence of adiposity. (Garaulet et al., 2010)
The relationship between sleep, irregular circadian rhythm, genes and metabolic syndrome is interconnected. Stress is also related to these health risk factors. When stress happens, the body releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates the release of insulin for the maintenance of blood glucose levels when the body undergoes the “fight-or-flight” response. When this happens, hunger and appetite is stimulated. Cortisol is normally high earlier in the morning and lower at night. People who suffer from Night-Eating Syndrome (NES) have an irregular circadian rhythm of meal intake, as a result of genetically programmed neuroendocrine factors, including altered cortisol levels. (Stunkard and Lu, 2010).
National Institutes of Health reported a study that has shown that a lack of sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s Disease. This is due to the byproduct amyloid beta that is cleared from the brain much faster while a person is awake, rather than sleeping.
Getting enough sleep is just as important as eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising. All of these contribute to a healthier lifestyle. It is important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day. For teens and children, 9 hours is recommended.
Follow these tips for a Better Quality Night’s Sleep:
Turn off or put away all electronics at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Do not eat right before bed time.
Avoid large meals at dinner.
Avoid consuming caffeine after 2pm.
Keep a consistent sleeping schedule so your body can follow and build a pattern.
Turn all of the lights off and keep the room dark.
Turn the temperature down or crack open a window, and keep the room cool.
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“Importance of Sleep : Six Reasons Not to Scrimp on Sleep – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. Harvard Health Publications/Harvard Health Medical School, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Krause, Marie V., L. Kathleen. Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump, and Janice L. Raymond. Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, 2012. Print.
Sparacino, Alyssa. “11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep.” Health.com. Time Inc. Network, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Twery, Michael. “Why Is Sleep Important?” HHS Blog. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 29 Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.