Dr. Scott Sanderson
Sleep is an essential part of your health and well-being. It is equally essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Research shows that getting enough sleep every night helps protect your physical and mental health as well as improve your quality of life.
How does sleep help your body?
There are a number of key important outcomes from getting continual, adequate, and restful sleep.
Improved mental health
Lack of adequate sleep often leads to forgetfulness, irritability, and tiredness. Restorative sleep helps your brain regenerate and function properly. A good night sleep allows your body to remove dead blood cells and brain cells to clear pathways for newer synapses that help you maintain maximum cognitive brain function.
A healthy heart
Scientific research has found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep over
an extended period increases your chances of heart failure. This is because sleep deprivation disrupts biological processes like blood pressure, inflammation, and glucose metabolism.
Lack of sleep increases chances of obesity. Sufficient sleep helps your body sustain a healthy balance of the production of the hormones responsible for making you feel hungry and full. When you deprive your body of sleep, it produces more ghrelin which ultimately increases your appetite. If you stay awake for longer hours, your body will need more energy to help you stay up longer. Therefore, you tend to eat more.
If you consistently skimp on needed rest, the chances are that you fall sick often becomes higher. Sleep deprivation weakens the immune system. It makes you more prone to catching colds and flu. When you sleep, your body creates disease fighting hormones to fight off diseases and infections. Hence, if you do not sleep enough, you restrict your body’s ability to create these substances leaving you more prone to any virus or bacteria you encounter. Recent research also shows that sufficient sleep will help you get more preventative benefits from vaccines.
Sleep is food for your body, brain, and skin. Poor sleep can cause chronic skin conditions and make your skin age faster. However, when you get sufficient sleep, your body produces new collagen that helps prevent skin sagging, which in turn leads to fewer wrinkles. Also, a good night sleep will give your skin sufficient time to recover from ultra violet light exposure.
In case you are experiencing difficulty falling asleep, here are a few tips to help you snooze.
- Adopt a regular sleep/wake cycle and a nightly pre-bed routine that helps your body understand that it’s time to go to sleep. Maybe some chamomile tea and reading a fiction book.
- Avoid alcohol, big meals, and smoking before bedtime. All will interfere with your sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep more quickly but interferes with the quality of your sleep throughout the entire night leaving you much more tired in the morning. Even a single glass of wine can interfere with your sleep for hours.
- No caffeine after 2pm or even earlier if you’re sensitive to it.
- Exercise regularly but no within 2-3 hours of bed time.
- Do not nap for too long or too late
- No screen time for at least 2 hours before bed or at least use a screen filter or blue light blocking glasses.
- Make your room completely dark.
- Make your room cool.
- No work in bed. Take your TV out of your bedroom. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex.
Sleep is a vital part of maintaining overall wellness in so many ways. It can make an enormous impact on the quality of your life. Hence, it is important that you prioritize getting adequate and consistent sleep every night.