Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for health.
Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Founder and Director, Center for Human Sleep Science
Obtaining adequate sleep is crucial for health and life span. The general recommendation is to sleep between seven to nine hours every night. Sleep deprivation, a growing concern in many countries, is associated with fatigue, weight gain, poor memory and concentration, chronic disease and risk of cancer.
Many factors contribute to sleep disturbances and disorders:
- bad habits and poor health behaviours (caffeine, eating late meals, social media and screen addiction, etc.);
- poor sleeping environment (room temperature, type of mattress, lighting and quality of air);
- quality of foods consumed (fried foods, sugar, gluten or processed foods can interfere with good sleep);
- digestive issues (stomach symptoms or irritable bowel can keep you up at nigh and make you feel sluggish the next morning);
- mental attitudes and disorders (anger, stress, depression, anxiety, etc.).
According to sleep expert William Dement, sleep is “the most important predictor of how long you will live — perhaps more important than smoking, exercise or high blood pressure.” Sleep is indeed regarded as health therapy, rather than a passive state of body and mind, due to its restoring and healing effects. Wake up to some of the facts and factors that may be stealing your health, changing at cells, exacerbating inflammation and increasing cardiovascular risk.
- sleep influences your diet and metabolism (lack of sleep and rest can reverse the positive effects of diet and reduce to half the amount of fat lost in weight loss);
- sleep deprivation changes your relationship with food (sleeping less than six hours a day increases unhealthy food cravings, makes you consume bigger portions, generates less satisfaction after meals and makes it very challenging to reduce weight due to hormonal imbalances it creates);
- shortage of sleep results is muscle loss (this further compromises weight loss; good sleep is a basic need to combat fatigue and ensure energy for physical exercise and performance);
- sleep promotes heart health (poor sleep has been linked to blood pressure and cholesterol problems; sacrificing even one hour a day of sleep equates to one day of sleep lost in a week);
- sleep may help depression (sleep affects many chemicals in the body, including serotonin);
- good sleep supports cognitive function (it improves memory and concentration, and it is critical to process learning of new information, according to Harvard Medical School);
- sleep can act as pain suppressant (while it is difficult to get sleep when in pain, studies have shown a link between sleep and pain threshold);
- sleep your way to longevity (American Cancer Society suggests sleeping seven hours a night for longevity; while we sleep, the body and brain are busy executing communication, balancing and cleaning functions for physical and mental health).
Lack of sleep triggers inflammatory responses, which is a leading cause of chronic diseases. The biological benefits of sleep can reset your health. Make it a priority.