By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj
“There’s plenty of time for sleep in the grave!”
That’s what my best friend used to say in college, so we spent four years running on way too little sleep. Whether we were up late studying or partying, sleep was the lowest priority. Now I’m older, wiser and an avid sleeper!
Here’s why sleep has become a top priority:
1. Sleep Deprivation Makes You Hungrier
Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to increases in grehlin (the hunger hormone) and decreases in leptin (the satiety hormone, that tells the brain “I’m full”). This hormone imbalance leads to more hunger and cravings.
2. Lack of Sleep is Linked with Hypertension
Researchers from the American Heart Association have found a link between sleep quality and resistant hypertension, which is a form of high blood pressure that is difficult to treat with drugs.
3. Lack of Sleep is Linked with Diabetes
Diabetes and sleep problems are often linked. One reason why is because when your blood sugar levels are high, your kidneys try to get rid of it by urinating, and getting up to use the bathroom all night obviously disrupts your sleep. Another problem is that when you’re not sleeping well, you may eat sugary foods for quick energy, which then leads to high blood sugar. So you can see how the vicious cycle can begin, leading to a hormonal rollercoaster and insulin resistance. When you are eating well and your blood sugars are under control, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
4. Lack of Sleep is Linked with Obesity
The American Journal of Human Biology has reported that short or poor quality sleep is linked to increased risk of obesity by de-regulating appetite, leading to increased energy consumption. The European Congress on Obesity has also reported that “children who don’t get enough sleep or who vary in their sleep pattern extensively are more likely to eat a poor, obesity-promoting diet.”
5. Sleep is Healing
When you’re sick, people tell you to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. That’s because we instinctively realize the healing power of sleep. Sleep is the time that our body is devoted to rest and repair, and it’s the time when your immune system is most active. So all you over-achievers out there take note: sleep is not passive, it’s very active on a physiological level!
6. Our Ancestors Slept
If you’re following a Paleo lifestyle, you know that sleep is a huge component. Paleo is not just about eating like a caveman, but also sleeping like a caveman. This means that you respect the cycles of nature and start to wind down when the sun goes down, turning off the TV and computer, which are disruptive to our circadian rhythms and melatonin production.
7. Sleep is a Success Principle
I was moved by this interview that Dr. Lipman did with Arianna Huffington about her “crusade against sleep deprivation” after fainting from exhaustion. (She even has nap rooms at the AOL offices!) Considering that sleep helps our neurological performance – including memory, problem solving skills and creativity – you really can consider sleep a success principle.
8. Sleep is Joyful
What could be better that hitting the sheets for a long night’s slumber and waking up refreshed! I find that when I sleep well, I’m so much more likely to take good care of myself the next day – I don’t need coffee to get going, I choose healthy foods, and I have the energy to exercise. It’s a virtuous cycle of feeling good!
Thanks to Dr. Lipman, I now have some super helpful practices for better quality sleep. First of all, I do the “electronic sundown,” turning off the computer and TV an hour before bedtime, as the blue light can disrupt melatonin production. I take some magnesium at night to help wind down and prepare for sleep. I always sleep in a dark room with the curtains drawn. If I have to get up in the middle of the night, I try to keep the lights off so I don’t disrupt melatonin levels.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night, Dr. Lipman also offers a Sleep Formula.
For some more sleep tips, check out: http://www.drfranklipman.com/sleep-solutions-14-ways-to-sleep-better-tonight/