It seems that we are all sleep-deprived. Whether because you think sleep is something to do when you are dead, or because you just can’t sleep because of _________, sleep is something we all need to do.
Like it or not, our bodies NEED it.
Fun Tip: Did you know that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping?
So, let's talk about some of the BENEFITS of sleep and why it is so good for us:
You may have heard of this technique where you get everything out of your head onto paper to avoid overwhelm? There is another meaning for it: your brain actually deep cleans itself during sleep! It has little “caves” that are opened which allows the cerebrospinal fluid to get into every nook and cranny to sweep out neurotoxins. One of these toxins is called beta-amyloid and is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. This process needs 6-8 hours of sleepy time to be done properly.
Lack of sleep = build up of neurotoxins.
How much sleep do we need? 6-8 hours for the average adult seem to be the magic numbers that experts recommend.
Sleep and metabolism are controlled by same part of brain: when get sleepy from lack of sleep, hormones that make us hungry increase. The body also tends to store energy as visceral (mid-section) fat rather than storing it in muscles. The brain thinks it's in “survival” mode when we don’t get adequate sleep, and thinks it needs to hold on to fat for a possible future famine. Conversely, when the body is relaxed from adequate sleep, it thinks it can use the energy for more short-term needs.
If you are tired the last thing you feel like is sex. Studies have indicated that testosterone is lowered in men who are sleep deprived. Sleep IS sexy.
1 in 5 car crashes are caused by sleep deprivation/drowsiness, according to The Institute of Medicine. That amounts to around 1 million crashes per year!!!! Our body on not enough zzzz’s is like having a 0.1% blood alcohol reading.
Fun tip: Yawn. Do you yawn a lot? You may be hotheaded. Seriously. Recent research around the mystery of why we yawn points to it being a way the brain cools itself.
Repair and Regeneration:
Growth Hormone is released by the pituitary gland during the deep sleep, or delta phase, and helps to repair and renew tissues. Think about how much better you feel after a good night's sleep when you are feeling under the weather..that is your body at work while you rest.
Less than 7-8 hours per night is linked with conditions like heart disease, and stroke.
Less sleep = higher risk.
Inadequate sleep affects blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. One study showed that sleep deprivation over 6 nights, caused pre-diabetes symptoms in the subjects. Once proper sleep was introduced this was reversed.
People are 3 times more likely to get a cold if they are sleep-deprived, according to one study.
Learning, Memory, & Problem Solving:
While practicing a new skill plays a big part in committing it to memory, sleep actually plays a big part in consolidating and making it “stick”. Think about how much better you can think and recall things after a good sleep, versus how foggy-headed you are after a bad night’s sleep.
Better Physical Performance:
Studies show that athletes perform better after adequate sleep. That also translates to us mere mortals who may struggle to stand on one leg while stretching.
Sleeping like a baby can help lower inflammation, by reducing levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker. We don’t want inflammation. It is linked with chronic disease and illness, and all sorts of nasties.
Cool as a Cucumber Mood:
Irritability and moodiness are HIGHLY likely on lack of sleep. Just ask the partner of a loud snorer. Or the downstairs neighbor of a heavy-footed floor-thumper who seems to rearrange his furniture every night. (Ok, that last one is me. Just ask me.)
Fun Tip: Whales and dolphins only sleep one side of the brain at a time! This is so they can come up for air.
So, sleeping beauties, soak up that gorgeous sleep because it has everything going for it! Come back for part 2 when we talk about some ways to help you get that elusive 8 hours of blissful rest.
The Sleep Revolution – Arianna Huffington.