Imagine: A single practice that can transform your metabolism, enhance weight loss, boost brain function and mood, maximize athletic performance, and reduce your chances of an early death.
What is it?
Research shows there is a significant chance that you are under-sleeping. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing a whopping one in three adult Americans get less sleep than they need, with more than seven hours considered the gold standard.
With sufficient slumber eluding the masses, and the potential consequences serious, let’s look and why sleep is so important for your health.
1) A Healthy Metabolism
Our bodies are a maze of non-stop chemical reactions that convert the food we eat into the energy we need, transform foodstuffs into the building blocks of life, and eliminate toxic waste. Our metabolism is dependent on the nutrients we consume and also, maybe surprisingly, the amount of sleep we achieve.
When we sleep well it is easier, for example, for our bodies to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. When our sleep habits are poor, though, our metabolism takes a beating and our health sufferers.
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found “A sleep duration of 6 hours or less or 9 hours or more is associated with increased prevalence of [diabetes mellitus] and [impaired glucose tolerance].”
What does this mean?
Whether substandard sleep is a result of sleep problems and lifestyle stressors, or due to voluntarily cuts in order to work longer hours, study into the night, or burn the candle at both ends, the negative effects on our blood sugar levels - and our metabolism - are the same.
And altered metabolic function may lead to (or aggravate) conditions like pre-diabetes, diabetes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), cardiovascular disease and weight gain…
2) Weight Maintenance
Chances are you have never thought about how insufficient slumber contributes to your waistline. Most people don’t. Yet sleep deprivation may promote a cluster of fat-gaining changes. The journal article The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation notes a trio of weight elevating effects, including altered glucose metabolism, increased hunger and a reduction in energy expenditure.
3) Better Brain Function
Brain power is the vehicle that propels us through life, yet poor sleep can make for a hamstrung driver.
There are two types of sleep deprivation and both adversely affect brain function:
1) Acute and total (for example, being awake for more than 17 consecutive hours)
Response rates and accuracy measures have been shown to plummet with acute and total sleep deprivation. In fact, long intervals without sleep can impact performance as much as (or more than) low level drink driving.
2) Chronic and partial (for example, regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night)
For many in our community, chronic, partial sleep deprivation is a very real challenge. Whether through occupational responsibilities, ill health, or a range of other reasons, this longterm reduced slumber has been shown to reduce reaction time and increase the incidence of micro sleeps.
Wonderfully, after complete sleep is restored for a number of nights, our brains recover and revert to their normal cognitive function.
4) A Happier Mood
If you’ve ever has a poor night’s rest, you’ll already know that sleep and mood have a complicated relationship. Waking unrested comes with obvious challenges, and as tiredness lingers, a grumpy mood is a common result.
But sleep and its relationship with mood runs deeper. Research shows that mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety can cause both onset and maintenance insomnia. Yet, did you know that insufficient slumber can exacerbate (and even proceed) these health conditions, too?
Through improving sleep quality by good habits and supportive supplementation, the mood disorders of mental health illness may be dramatically reversed.
And if you are healthy?
As a published study in the journal Sleep found, "Sleep loss amplifies the negative emotive effects of disruptive events while reducing the positive effect of goal-enhancing events.” By sleeping well, you’ll reverse the tendency to turn a molehill into a mountain and boost the joy you experience.
5) Enhanced Athletic Performance
Ample sleep delivers more than just the energy required to sail through the day. It can directly impact athletic performance. Researchers Reilly and Piercy investigated the effects of partial sleep deprivation on maximal bicep curl, bench press, leg press, and dead lift. The result? Other than with bicep curls, there was a significant drop in performance.
The study Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes also found that a lack of slumber can increase the risk of athletic injury. That’s another great reason to prioritize sleep.
6) Immune Function Benefits
Want to get and stay well? Focus on sufficient zzz’s….
Research shows that one night of poor sleep can reduce our natural immune responses. On the flip side, a single night of restorative sleep can return immune function to heathy baseline levels.
7) Calmed Cravings
Have cravings got you caught in their claws? One of the common sleep-deprived complaints I hear is that as sleep falls, strong cravings for sugar, salt and starch rise. This makes good biological sense because when you are fatigued, you are stressed. Our bodies still identify stress as a life-threatening event. So, while the tiredness of modern life doesn’t throw up the challenges of yesteryear, our biology naturally swings into action to provide protection.
Cravings ensure we consume the energy we need to flight or flee.
Luckily, when we sleep, we reduce our stress. With reduced stress, we have less biological need for cravings. I often see that, with sufficient shuteye, a persons cravings simply subside.
8) Healthy genes
If you knew that this one habit could change the expression of a staggering 711 genes, would you focus achieving healthy slumber? I hope so!
The groundbreaking study Effects of insufficient sleep on circadian rhythmicity and expression amplitude of the human blood transcriptome found just this: sleep deprivation up or down-regulated 711 genes! The genes involved “included chromatin organization and modification, gene expression, inflammatory and stress responses, as well as cellular macromolecule metabolism, and oxidative stress responses.” This provides a likely causative link between the findings that poor sleep can cause serious disease. And on that note…
9) Protection Against Serious Disease
The CDC data and statistics on Short Sleep Duration Among US Adults showed that those who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are more at risk of:
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Chronic kidney disease, and
Healthy sleep habits are a perfect way to reduce these dangers.
10) The Youthful Glow of Longevity
Insomnia, as you can see from the list above, is a serious issue. With evidence that trouble initiating sleep and non-restorative sleep are both linked with an increased risk of death, ensuring that all underlying causative issues are fixed and that you implement healthy sleep habits can contribute to energetic longevity.
As you can see, the research reveals achieving a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night can boost your metabolism, aid weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, enhance brain function, mood, and athletic performance and, crucially, reduce your risk of an early death. There are very few single strategies that can deliver the profound and wide ranging benefits of adequate sleep! If you’d love to live a healthier, happier, longer life, I strongly encourage targeted supplementation, such as Deeper Sleep - A Natural Sleep Aid and healthy sleep habits.