Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sleep the magic cure

Here is another episode in the 'its a sleepy story' series!

Sleep - The Magic Cure

We all know that sleep is very important to our overall well being and our mood, as our families will attest too! 
But what a lot of people do not realise is the effect that sleep has chemically on our body, and how important that is if we are looking to lose weight or to be optimally healthy.

Sleep is underestimated, it effects everything that we are doing.

You cannot lose weight and be sleep deprived. 
There's a great sleep project that tested insulin sensitivity on a group of young people. They depleted their sleep for a number of days and the results were amazing. 
They had the metabolic profile of someone with diabetes and severe metabolic problems. When this happens you leave yourself open for weight gain and for pre-diabetes. Trying to lose weight in this state is barely possible. 

If you are sleep deprived the leptin and grelin hormones are effected and as a result you are hungrier and eat far more. I've totally had this, when I've had poor sleep my hunger levels and carbohydrate cravings have gone through the roof!

Here is what another study has found.
They took people and all they changed was the amount of sleep they were getting. They gave them 6 hours per night for 11 consecutive nights. They did cognitive testing on them before and after. When they were sleep deprived they had the same cognitive level as if they were legally drunk.

Other studies have shown that a lack of sleep results in Inflammation in the brain, a long the same lines as from traumatic brain damage.
Shift work has also been named as carcinogenic and leads to increased inflammation in all the body, not just the brain, but in other hormonal functions such as Thyroid function.

So it's clear from the science how bad a lack of sleep is for us.
We don't often deplete ourselves of sleep deliberately, but we are busy and want to pack our lives full of  looking after our families, homes and jobs. 
We might even say that we are too busy to go to bed early and to get a good sleep.
But if we truly value our productivity and our health, we will make sure that we value our sleep.

So what is sleeping adequately?
The number is generally 7.5 hours - give or take 30 mins.

There's also been great research about sleep debt, scientists have found that we do indeed have sleep debt, and that we need to catch up on a lack of sleep. So if we have a night of reduced sleep we need to try to catch up on that sleep - either in a daytime nap or increased sleep the following night.

What about sleeping tablets?
They increase the sleep time but you don't get any deep sleep. Your not getting to the repairing sleep stage - REM sleep is also reduced by 80% - which is brain repair and helps us make sense of the world.

Brain scans have shown (EEG) that the brain looks like its been knocked unconscious rather than restorative sleep when we take sleeping pills. People then feel worse and worse and can become addicted to them. Often this is noticed by people needing sleep tablets, and feeling no refreshment from a nights sleep.
Instead there are far better ways of getting a better night sleep.
If you can, avoid sleep tablets!

Bright Light Therapy.
We've discussed here a number a methods of getting a good sleep.
Bright light therapy means using light to code your circadian rhythm.
One of the queues for our body to wake up is blue light. So if you get good sun light in the start of the day your adrenal function ramps up and starts your body for the day.

By putting more light in your eyes it can improve your adrenal functions.
But then the opposite is true, you need to avoid blue light after the sun has gone down. Especially one hour before sleep.
One thing that lets out huge amounts of blue light are televisions and screens.
If we look at screens right up to sleep time, then our body is being told chemically that its still day time. Melotonin - the sleepy hormone isn't made as much in your body, and you'll have problems dropping off and staying asleep.

Value sleep.
If you get enough sleep, everything will be better with your day. Your productivity will be better and your mood will be better.

Remember the above statistic that 6 hours of sleep for 11 consecutive has the same results as being legally drunk.
Would you make life changing decisions in that state? Would you say that your mood is stable?
I know that if I've had an interrupted night sleep (Probably the baby!!) that the next day my hunger and mood is drastically effected.
I know myself well enough that I stop myself from planning my work for future weeks or from making any important decisions. That's because my mood would always be far more pessimistic, and my decisions would be far less rational.

Please value your sleep - It's the magic cure...

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