Morning already? I just got back to sleep and now the alarm. Maybe 15 more minutes – yeah, definitely 15 more minutes.
It is 2 A.M. and your mind is racing. You can’t fall back to sleep and counting sheep turns out to be a lousy piece of advice!
Do these sound familiar? Perhaps both in the same sleep cycle? I know I can relate. Bottomline, sleep is crucial for our health, and women have a higher propensity to have sleep related problems (57 % to men’s 51%) thanks to our ever changing hormonal landscape.
First, let’s look at how we fall asleep (and, it’s not watching a boring TV show).
The literature suggests two processes that trigger our desire to sleep…
– The first is from a compound called ‘adenosine’. Over the course of your day, adenosine levels in your brain rise. This increase signals your brain to make a shift toward sleep. Then, while you are sleeping, your body breaks down the adenosine.
- – A second process involves your internal circadian rhythm that is driven by environmental factors such as light, dark, and body temperature that determines when you are sleepy. As the sun goes down, your pineal gland starts releasing a hormone called ‘melatonin’ which signals the body to get ready to sleep.
And, as the story goes – they all lived ‘happily ever-after’. What??? Wait, say again? My brain did not get that memo! So, we wake up a bit crabby (ok – a lot crabby), chug down a cup (or more) of coffee and try to place a band-aid on a lousy night sleep.
So, what do we short-change when we don’t sleep well? First – let’s remember that sleep is a time for the body to recover (so, the idea that ‘plenty of time to sleep in the grave’ – is well – ludicrous).
First, sleep allows your brain to function at its intended level. Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep helps with learning, decision making, creativity, emotional control, and paying attention. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a lack of productivity and even depression!
Second, physically, you are repairing your circulatory system during sleep. So, chronic sleep issues are linked to increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Also, if that weren’t bad enough – lack of sleep is also linked to obesity. There are three hormones that impact our hunger levels.
Ghrelin —- Leptin —- Insulin
Ghrelin makes you hungry; while leptin makes you feel satiated. When you are lacking sleep – your levels of ghrelin go up and leptin goes down. That alone makes me want to get more sleep! Studies done at the University of Chicago have shown that people who have sleep issues want to eat more simple carbs
So, what about insulin? Lack of sleep appears to increase insulin resistance – so, you end up with higher than normal blood sugar which impacts numerous things like your cholesterol profile, and can even hasten wrinkles!
Other wonderful things happen as well –
- The immune system goes into gear
- hGH (Human Growth Hormone) is produced – this is especially important for growing children!
- Our organs are being repaired.
- Muscle is being built.
Seems to me that we need to protect this wonderful process. I know you feel the same – so, next up…..
How do we do this? Stay tuned!