Sleep is not necessarily something that springs to mind when we think about making changes that can benefit our health. However, there is an abundance of research which shows getting an adequate amount of good quality sleep has significant benefits on our physical and emotional health.
What impact does not getting enough sleep have?
When we’re tired, we might notice that we’re less able to concentrate, and feel less productive or focussed. Tiredness can also make us less rational and reasoned in the choices we make. In other words, our resistance lowers when we have had less sleep. Research has shown that our brain responds differently to higher calorie foods when we are tired, meaning we are less likely to be able to resist them.
Lack of sleep also has a physiological impact on the body, altering the balance of appetite hormones, blood glucose regulation systems and our metabolism. When we are tired, our bodies contain more of a hormone called ghrelin, this is a hormone that increases appetite. Thus, when we are deprived of sleep we often feel more hungry. In addition, studies have shown that restricting sleep can reduce our bodies ability to breakdown glucose; a characteristic similar to what is seen in diabetes.
Sleep provides the body with an opportunity to regenerate and reset. Scientists believe that the ‘recharge’ that occurs in deep sleep is important for glucose regulation as well as providing an opportunity for the body to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Hence, sleep and quality of sleep play a crucial role in maintaining heart health, blood pressure and allowing the brain to ‘wash out’ toxins that accumulate during the day.
When we have not had sufficient sleep our body experiences physiological changes that drive appetite and less healthy choices. Sleeping well means we are more likely to have the energy to be more active and make healthier choices. Sleep also helps our metabolism function normally, and helps regulate blood pressure and reduce risk of heart problems.
I will continue this sleep series in my next post covering points that might help improve sleep quality. However, if you have concerns about any aspect of your sleeping routine, please visit your GP for further advice.
In my consultations I will often ask about sleep routine and sleep quality with my clients. Find out more about my consultations here.