First off, why a good nights sleep is essential for good health?
Many studies have shown that a good nights sleep is essential! The lack of sleep can have a huge impact on your total health. If you do not get a good nights sleep you are increasing your chances of developing a serious medical condition such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Not only does sleep affect your health but it also plays a large role in learning and memory.
If you do not get sufficient sleep it affects your ability to focus and learn
Sleep also plays a large role in consolidating your memory (make it stick) so that you are able to recall it in the future.
A lack of sleep can also affect your mood, motivation, judgment, and how you perceive things that happen
Not getting sufficient sleep can also set you up for weight gain. Being sleepy will decrease your self-control
It is estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for 20 percent of all car crashes in the United States.
Stages of Sleep
Did you know that there are a number of different stages of sleep? Each one provides a valuable function for the body. The two main categories are REM and non-REM. I was actually surprised to find out how many different stages of sleep there actually were. If you are interested in learning more about the different sleep stages I recommend checking out this article.
Nutrition for the brain.
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. Being sleepy will decrease your self-control. So it is not sleep in general but improving the amount of deep sleep that will really make a difference in improving your health.
Deep sleep is when you have the lowest frequency in your brain waves. It is during this time that you are the hardest to wake up. If someone woke you up and you felt very groggy and foggy that means that you were in the middle of a deep sleep cycle. It is during deeps sleep that your body works the hardest to recover. It is trying to repair your body for the previous days' activities. If you feel rested when you wake up that is a sure sign that you have gotten plenty of quality deep sleep.
What percentage of your sleep cycle should be deep sleep?
There’s no such thing as too much deep sleep. For adults the deep sleep should be about 20% of your overall sleep cycle (1.5 -2 hours of deep sleep/night) Some people, however, may find they need more in order to feel fully rested. Keep in mind that everyone is different. Age, activity levels, and stress all play a role in how much deep sleep someone might need.
Americans aren't spending enough time snoozing. In 2013 (the last year measured by Gallup), the average American slept 6.8 hours a night—with 40 percent banking less than six hours. … Back in 2014, the CDC labeled sleep deprivation a public health epidemic—with over 70 million adults suffering from a sleep disorder.Aug 18, 2017
How does sleep affect your weight? (webmd)
There have been studies done which show that being short on sleep can really affect your weight. If you are consistently not getting sufficient sleep it is a perfect recipe for weight gain. If you are sleepy it is easy to be tempted to skip exercise and eat out because you don’t want to cook. Then it leads ot going to bed when you are still full. When you are sleepy your self control also affected so it is harder to say no to deserts and sugar . Studies have shown that over 1/3rd of Americans are not getting enough sleep.
Skimping on sleep sets your brain up to make bad decisions. It dulls activity in the brain’s frontal lobe, the locus of decision-making and impulse control.
So it’s a little like being drunk. You don’t have the mental clarity to make good decisions.
A second study found that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, increasing weight gain. And in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.
Add it all together, and a sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the impulse control to say no.
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Dr Rapoport”]Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite. [/pullquote]
Not getting enough sleep can also raise your cortisol levels. Cortisol is what tells your body to hold onto body fat, so it plays a huge role in weight gain. It is also a major contributor to anxiety and depression. If your cortisol levels are off, you would feel foggy, listless, and fatigued. Cortisol also plays an essential role in regulating blood pressure and circulation; our lungs, muscles, and bones; and even our skin and hair. Cortisol affects the brain chemicals the determine energy, mood, mental clarity, focus, and sleep.
So it goes in a vicious cycle. Lack of sleep raises your cortisol this leads to difficulty sleeping which raises your cortisol…
The more nights that go by with cortisol high instead of low, the more likely you are to develop digestive issues, hormone imbalances, mood changes, and/or issues related to your immune system (allergies, autoimmunity, infections, and/or cancer).
Tips to sleep better at night naturally.
#1 – Power down bright lights/screen time at least an hour before bed. We mean it. We all have busy lives and our phones, tablets, computers and TVs call us for work or play 24⁄7. Removing the bright light and the stimulation will help get your body readier for its sleep cycle.
#2 – Stick to a similar bedtime every night – even on weekends. Better deep sleep is about becoming a better creature of habit. It doesn’t mean five days on and two days off. Keeping a consistent pattern for your body helps it stay in alignment and find the right cycle night after night.
#3 – Find the right temperature for your bedroom. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. But physiology and science agree that the right median temperature for a body to rest at night is right around 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19.5 degrees Celcius).
#4 – No big meals or workouts too close to bedtime. We all live active lives and are pressed for time to hit the gym or eat before hitting the sack and starting a new day. But the effects of these active or ravenous nights are shown to disrupt sleep, and thus decrease the amount of deep sleep we get. Some say it’s best to avoid workouts and heavy meals 3 hours before bedtime.
#5 De-stress. Easier said than done, of course. However, as you reduce your stress, whether through the help of meditation, stretching, acupuncture or lifestyle shifts, you can calm your mind and body and give yourself a better chance at a better night’s rest.
#6 Choose a good mattress.
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#7 Drink plenty of water. Dehydration along with not getting enough sleep can lead to daytime fatigue. Dehydration also reduces the amount of essential amino acids that your body needs in order to produce melatonin, making it difficult to both fall asleep and stay asleep. So essentially water affects the quality of every hour of the day. In a previous blog, I discussed water and the type of water that is most beneficial to your health.
To summarize getting a good night's sleep is essential for good health. Not getting enough good sleep can lead to feeling tired. Poor sleep can affect your memory, how you process information and your overall health. It reduces your self-control which in turn affects your decision making. Lack of sleep raises your cortisol which in turn leads to weight gain and more poor sleep. It is a vicious cycle.
Getting a good mattress is key along with stress reduction and good hydration. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Stick to a schedule and put down your cell phone and turn off the TV at least half an hour before going to bed.