“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”
– Benjamin Franklin
Nothing quite beats that feeling after a good night’s sleep. You’re bright, perky, refreshed and rejuvenated; you look great, you feel great and the day just seems to flow smoothly and effortlessly. And we can tell you why!
Sleep is absolutely essential. So essential in fact, that without it our body literally goes into malfunction. Our brain, heart, mood, immune function, and metabolism are just a few things a lack of sleep can dramatically alter, which in effect can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Many of us take sleep for granted. We stay up late working, watching TV or talking to our friends, which then causes our sleep to become disturbed and therefore not deep or long enough to really have an effect on recharging and repairing our body.
We believe that sleep is one of the main contributors to a healthy and happy life and when your sleep patterns are in balance, you can really feel a difference in your mood and bodily health.
Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders, says that sleep affects almost every tissue in the body and is vital for protecting us against disease and illness. He says that ‘sleep is one part of the whole rhythm of life’ and if we disrupt that rhythm, the biology of our body becomes less efficient. Twery adds, ‘and that inefficiency basically leads to disease.’
So let’s take a look at the ways in which your body benefits from having a good night’s sleep.
Heals bone tissue
While we sleep our body repairs itself, for example, the spongy tissue inside the bone, which are called immature cells or stem cells, begin to regenerate to form the blood cells in the body. If we don’t have adequate sleep our bones are not able to regenerate new bone tissue and without healthy bone tissue and blood cells, our bodily health begins to deteriorate.
Healthy Brain Function
The brain needs sleep more than any other organ. Sleep helps nerve cells in the brain to communicate effectively, which increases our ability to create, problem solve and form short and long-term memories. Numerous studies have shown that the brain is remarkable for removing toxins during sleep, toxins that are usually associated with brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Helps skin look youthful and radiant
Ever looked in the mirror after a bad night’s sleep and feel like you look 10 years older? Well, there’s a reason for that! While you sleep your body boosts blood flow to the skin and increases collagen production giving your skin a natural, healthy glow. Lack of sleep creates an imbalance in your skin’s pH levels, which means your skin is unable to produce sufficient moisture to hydrate your skin, leaving your skin looking and feeling drier than usual and more susceptible to breakouts. So now you know where the term ‘getting your beauty sleep’ comes from!
Boosts the immune system
While you sleep, your immune system produces infection-fighting proteins called cytokines which protect your body from dangerous intruders in the form of viruses and bacteria. These protective substances increase when your body has caught an infection or is under stress. Inadequate sleep, therefore, limits the number of cytokines produced, which de-energizes the immune system and causes the body to become prone to illness. This is why when many of us, as a result of ‘pulling an all-nighter,’ feel run down and are more likely to develop cold and flu symptoms.
Sleep and mood are very closely connected to the point that it is almost impossible to maintain positive feeling emotions after a consistent succession of sleepless nights.
The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain and is responsible for detecting and triggering fight or flight responses. When the brain is well rested, the pre-frontal cortex, which is the structure of the brain that gives us intelligence and self-awareness, acts like a protective parent to the amygdala, by signaling danger and moderating the fear response. This keeps your emotions balanced and your mind clear. With inadequate sleep, the connection between the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala is weakened, which can cause fear and anxiety and a decreased ability to make appropriate and rational decisions for oneself.
Improves sexual health
A good sleep keeps testosterone levels in balance, which is vital for maintaining healthy sexual function. Research shows that inadequate sleep leads to a reduction in testosterone levels, which effectively means a lack of sex drive for both men and women, but especially for men. And on top of reduced testosterone levels are the emotional and psychological imbalances caused by poor brain functioning, all of which negatively affects the libido.
Stabilizes weight and blood sugar levels
There is growing evidence to suggest the correlation between adequate sleep and weight loss. Ever feel like you crave junk food more when you’ve had less sleep? Well, there are numerous studies to show that people who have had less sleep crave junk food over healthy food, partly due to inefficient receptors to the brain that inhibit the ability to make healthy choices. Another reason for this is that a lack of sleep causes blood sugar levels to become unstable, which fuels the impulsive need for processed and sugary foods, which as a result increases the risk of diabetes.
Another important thing to mention is that during sleep, your hunger hormones leptin, which helps you stay full longer, and ghrelin, which induces appetite, are rebalanced, which helps to keep your eating habits under control.
Keeps your heart healthy
Sleep is a major contributor to keeping stress hormones at bay. Inadequate sleep leads to higher levels of stress hormones and increased inflammation, which is the main cause of cardiovascular disease. Studies show that even one bad night’s sleep can unsettle your cardiovascular system. There have even been recent reports to show that a lack of sleep increases calcium build up in the arteries, which is a component of plaque that increases the risk of heart attacks.
So do your body a favor and get a good night’s sleep tonight!
The connection between sleep and oral health
As we sleep our bodies go into self-repair mode, so it’s no surprise that our oral health also reaps the benefits. During these healing hours of body-rejuvenation, our blood vessels repair and regenerate, our blood sugar stabilizes and our immune system is in tip-top shape, all of which are essential for the maintenance of a healthy mouth.
As the blood sugar rises due to sleep-deprivation, the amount of glucose that is released into the bloodstream causes the gums to weaken and become prone to infection. As for the immune system, if it is not functioning appropriately, it will have a much harder time fighting off bacteria in the mouth.
Another disadvantage that insufficient sleep has on our oral health is that the body’s inflammatory hormones become imbalanced. During a bad night’s sleep the production of inflammatory hormones increases, which can lead to gum inflammation and, therefore, the beginning of gum disease.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep
- Avoid all electrical devices at least an hour before bed.
- Limit caffeine intake and try not to have any caffeinated drinks after 2 pm.
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Ensure your mattress and pillows are up to your own personal comfort standard and that your room is dark enough. If not, then consider wearing an eye mask.
- If your surroundings are noisy then consider using earplugs.
- Listen to relaxing music before sleep or read a book.
- Deep breathing and meditation are excellent techniques for relaxation. Check out our article, 7-day mind and body detox, which offers some short, simple breathing techniques.
- Run a relaxing bath with lavender oil.
- Limit alcohol consumption before bed. Although it may seem that alcohol helps you fall asleep, the quality of sleep is poor and will leave you feeling unrested in the morning.
- Journal before bed. Worry keeps us awake so get your thoughts down on paper, which will help clear the mind. A recent study has shown that writing ‘to-do’ lists for the next day helps people fall asleep a lot faster than writing about completed tasks.
We wish you a long, deep and restful night’s sleep tonight.
And don’t let the bed bugs bite!
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