Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our "sleep health" remains an essential question throughout our lifespan. Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like. To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interferes with our "circadian rhythm" or natural sleep/wake cycle.
"Feeling sleepy" during the work day is not just an inconvenience - it IS affecting your overall health.
Your Immune System
Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye. Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond.
Body Repair and Calorie Expenditure
Despite the fact that you are resting, your body still consumes energy when you sleep. Energy use is particularly high during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During this time, your brain is highly active and you burn the most glucose, your body’s source of fuel. Your heart rate and blood pressure also rise during this time, which burns more calories.
During the night, your body goes to work repairing any damage done on a cellular level during your waking hours. For instance, if you exercise during the day, your muscles will recover and repair themselves at night, which requires energy. Food digestion also uses energy, as your body breaks down your meal into usable fuel for the following day.
Lack of Sleep and Disease
Research has shown that the lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing: Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and elevated blood pressure. Learn why.
Make sleep a priority in your overall health care. 7-9 Hours of sleep each night is still the recommended range for maintaining optimum health benefits. Your health is worth it!