fuel Dec 16, 2020

Don’t eat sugar, cook at home, exercise at least a half hour a day, having good hygiene + skin care routine, and journal/meditate… these are all mantras we hear on the daily.

We’ve been hit hard with tons of health tips, but there is one HUGE aspect to your health that no one talks about…. sleep.

The amount of sleep you get directly correlates not only with your mood and brain function, but also with your weight, fitness level, immune system, gut inflammation, and overall life longevity.

Sleep is therefore important for your physical, mental, and emotional health! See below for ten scientific reasons that sleep is JUST as important for your health as eating, exercise, and hygiene.

PS… always remember that your best hours of sleep are from 10-2!

Better sleep regulates your weight

Sleeping at least 7 hours a night helps you produce hormones called ghrelin and leptin, hormones that help regulate your appetite. Sleep deprivation can also affect the way that your body processes and stores carbs. Weight gain actually has the strongest link to lack of sleep over any other factors like diet. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, dieters who are well-rested lost 56% more fat than dieters who had sleep-deprivation.

Improves productivity and concentration

There are two stages of sleep our bodies go through… NREM, which makes up 75-80% of sleep and REM, which makes up 20-25% of sleep. During NREM tissue growth + repair occurs, energy is restored, and hormones essential for growth + development are released. During REM, our minds begin to process emotions, stress, and memories. It is vital for processing new information and long term knowledge/growth. Allowing your body to go through cycles of NREM and REM not only helps your productivity + concentration in the short term, but it also helps foster long term growth and information processing. Poor sleep can have a similar effect on you as drinking too much alcohol. 

Maximizes physical performance

Studies have shown that if you are an athlete, getting 10 hours of sleep a night compared to 7-8 hours improves sprint time, stamina, accuracy, and daytime fatigue. Since physical exercise requires a breakdown in muscle, sleep is essential to help your body repair itself. Your cells produce more proteins (a building block for cell repair) when you are sleeping. With the elderly, studies have shown that poor sleep is linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty with independent activities. 

Decreases risk of heart disease and stroke

Guess what? Lacking sleep can be just as dangerous for your heart as eating McDonald’s. There have been many studies showing that getting under 7-8 hours of sleep a night can put you at a much higher risk for heart diseases. Poor sleeping habits have been associated with worsening blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Affects Glucose Metabolism, and Type 2 Diabetes

During your deep sleep periods, your glucose level will experience a drop. Not enough time spent in this stage of sleep can hurt the “reset” your body needs to regulate your insulin. Studies have shown that people getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night for a week tend to show symptoms of prediabetes. 

Good sleep improves your mood

This seems to be an obvious one… who else struggles to be in a good mood after a bad night’s sleep? However, studies have shown that poor sleeping patterns are linked to depression. People with insomnia or sleep apnea report significantly higher rates of depression. Sleep impacts serotonin, the hormone that gives you energy and helps regulate your emotions.

Sleep improves your immune system

Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours/night are 3x more likely to get a cold. Sleeping causes your body to release a compound called cytokines. These can help fight inflammation due to infection. If you are not getting enough sleep over long periods of time, your body may also slow down in producing antibodies like white blood cells.

Inflammation is regulated

Struggle with gut health? Sleeping more can reduce digestive inflammation. Poor sleep is strongly linked to higher levels of inflammatory proteins that can result in Crohn’s disease and inflammation in the digestive tract.

Regulates your hormones

Your body produces these important hormones when you’re asleep:

Melatonin- A hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors--both cancerous and benign.

Serotonin- Impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness. This hormone restricts blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter to the brain.

Leptin- Regulates appetite and fat storage.

Ghrelin- Stimulates appetite + increases food intake along with homeostasis (energy).

Cortisol- A steroid hormone that regulates immune responses, metabolism, and affects how your body responds to stress.

Increases longevity

Overall, getting high quality sleep promises an overall longer life. Studies have shown that people who get 5 or fewer hours of sleep a night are 12% more likely to experience an early death.

What do you do to make sure you’re getting enough sleep per night?