Think sleep is pretty cut and dry? Not quite!
Here's what you desperately need to know about the importance of sleep:
Sleep is the point at which our bodies rest and recharge. It induces cell renewal, manages our stress (and thereby other) hormones, helps our gut health, increases our cognitive functioning, and helps to prevent weight gain and chronic disease development.
*Sleep allows for your hormones to properly reset. The first being Human Growth Hormone. It peaks at night to repair all the worn-out cells that need attention in your body.
2 other hormones that are disrupted are leptin and ghrelin. These 2 hormones being out of what cause carb cravings, which leads to overeating and eating unhealthy junk food. Those of us that don't get enough sleep have the tendency to be overeaters as well as prediabetic.
Probably the biggest hormone of importance during sleep is cortisol, which is like the 'master hormone' of all others. It's lowest time is during sleep, then it revs back up again in the morning for the rest of the day until it falls at bedtime again, and melatonin picks up for it so you can sleep.
If reset properly, it allows you to manage stress levels better, and in effect, all other hormones to work like they should, including sex hormones. It is well known that there's a connection between lack of sleep and testosterone decrease in men.
If not properly reset, one kink in the flow can cause a cascade of ill effects, including total hormone hormone imbalance, weight gain, and adrenal fatigue.
*Cortisol tells our bodies to either relax, or go into fight or flight. It's much higher when we haven't slept. Higher cortisol levels happen when we're constantly overcommitted, have too much stimulation, and don't get enough downtime or me-time to rest and rejuvinate. It tells our bodies to hang onto fat, causes anxiety and depression, and prevents us from relaxing and sleeping.
*Cortisol also affects our muscles and bones; our blood pressure, circulation, and lungs; as well as our skin and hair.
In short--it's a VERY important hormone to keep control of!
Sleep is related to gut health as well. Studies have shown a huge change in gut bacteria from sleep deprivation. This is important, because 70% of melatonin is produced in the gut, and 90% of serotonin is produced there. Both of these hormones affect crazy important things, like sleep (yes, it becomes a vicious cycle), depression, anxiety disorders, and our ability to feel and stay full. When our gut health is compromised, the production of these hormones is altered as well.
Not to mention the immunity factor in our gut. About 70% of our immune system lies in our gut, and bacteria play a large role in that. This bacteria helps develop T-cells that fight infection.
When we don't have proper gut bacteria balance, certain inflammatory triggers are also set off. This causes intestinal permeability, and can lead to food intolerance, food allergies, and lots of pain. It is also believed that many autoimmune diseases are triggered by poor gut health.
3-Link to Diseases
Sleep, or lack thereof, has also been connected to a list of heart-related disease. This is partly because of the constant high levels of cortisol. They include: obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and even diabetes.
Lack of sleep increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes because of the link to cortisol. Higher cortisol increases hunger, which leads to overeating and cravings of sugary and and other unhealthy foods. This causes glucose intolerance, and also leads to increased inflammation and decreased immunity, which can then lead to cancer.
Sleep is the time when your mind washes itself of harmful waste proteins. Studies have now shown that decreasing your quality sleep doesn't allow the 'washing' of specific toxins, and those toxins have been found to contribute to Alzheimers.
Sleep allows your mind to sort and consolidate all that information you've taken in all day, every day. This allows for proper cognitive functioning.
Lack of sleep also causes memory loss and brain fog. Lack of sleep and driving has been accurately compared to driving while under the influence after being awake for just 17 hours.
Any of of these things alone should give us reason to put SLEEP as our #1 thing to improve for better health!
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