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By Alex Allan on 29/03/24 | Lifestyle tips

10 Reasons Why You Need More Sleep

I’m sure you’re already aware that getting more sleep is a great idea, but here’s something I see a lot in my nutrition clinic: knowing something doesn’t mean doing it. 

Sometimes I feel it’s because people aren’t completely sure why sleep is so important for their health and, without that vital piece of information in place, it’s hard to persuade yourself it’s something you should be doing when there are so many other things calling for your attention and your valuable time.

So today I thought I would offer up some compelling reasons why making sleep a priority really is a good idea. You will likely already know many of the things you could do to make sleep more likely to happen but there is no urgency because the concept of sleep feels too far removed from the symptoms you’re experiencing. So, here’s my list, which is not exhaustive. Let me know which is the biggest reason you have for sleeping more!

Are you ready to discover the game-changer that could transform your health? Let's talk about sleep – the unsung hero of well-being – and what the lack of it is doing inside your body. 

1. Promotes weight gain

Are those stubborn extra pounds refusing to budge? Enter sleep – a star player in your weight loss journey. 

Many studies point to sleep restriction leading to increased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreased levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for fullness. 

Not only that, chemical changes inside the brain also alter the kinds of foods you fancy eating. So, by ensuring sufficient sleep, you're not just avoiding late-night snacking; you're setting the stage for a metabolism that works in your favour.

2. Creates more inflammation

Practically every cause of dis-ease in the body (and also disease) is related one way or another to inflammation. Inflammation can wreak havoc on your body, and poor sleep might be fanning the flames. 

Researchers found a clear link between sleep deprivation and increased inflammatory markers. So, when you prioritise sleep, you're not just easing into dreamland; you're actively reducing the risk of inflammatory conditions of all kinds.

3. Destabilises your hormones

Your body is a finely-tuned orchestra of hormones, and sleep plays the role of the conductor. Skimping on sleep can throw this delicate symphony off balance, impacting everything from stress hormones to those governing metabolism (like hunger and fullness) as well as female hormones. For women, sleeping well is not a luxury.

When you don’t sleep, what might be on the cards includes menstrual irregularities due to interruptions your body’s natural wake-sleep rhythm, exacerbated PMS as well as problems with fertility, too. A harmonious hormonal dance begins with a restful night's sleep.

4. More stress on top of your existing stress

Feel like stress and anxiety are running the show? Let sleep be your backstage pass to tranquillity. Author of the book Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker, highlights the crucial role of sleep in emotional regulation. Get less sleep, expect heightened emotional reactivity, increased stress and anxiety, and symptoms of mental health disorders like depression.

So, when you're tucked in for the night, you're not just escaping reality temporarily; you're arming yourself against the stressors of tomorrow.

5. Poor memory

Ever wondered why a good night's sleep leaves you feeling mentally refreshed? It’s because sleep contributes to memory consolidation and cognitive function. 

When you prioritise sleep, you're not just catching up on dreams; you're enhancing your brain's ability to tackle challenges, adapt to new circumstances, make better decisions, and retain information. That sounds like a win on every level imaginable.

6. Compromised immunity

Picture sleep as your body's superhero cape, especially when it comes to the immune system. 

Insufficient sleep weakens your defences, making you more susceptible to infections and worse – studies point to lack of sleep also being a risk factor in a variety of cancers. Want to stay healthy? Make sleep your immune-boosting sidekick.

7. Greater risk of heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of illness and death across the western world and there are a huge number of risk factors involved, from smoking to being overweight. Interestingly, there is an increasing amount of attention being given to poor sleep and cardiovascular risk. It’s thought to be linked to the non-REM sleep stages, during which your whole body slows down (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing) and this is restorative for the heart. 

Now imagine getting less sleep or interrupted sleep… Small wonder that chronic sleep deprivation is linked to a wide range of cardio conditions, like high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack. Guard your heart – prioritise those peaceful nights.

8. More likely to get diabetes

Watch out for the blood sugar rollercoaster! If you’ve been in my world for a while, you might have seen me talk about blood glucose levels being key for hormone balance. It’s a subject I never tire of talking about it and it’s easier to get under control than you might think. This is a key part of all my nutrition programmes so do let me know how I can help. 

Lack of sleep has been linked to insulin resistance, paving the way for type 2 diabetes. Plus, as I covered in my happy healthy hormones blog, balancing sugar helps balance insulin, which keeps our sex hormones balanced.

9. You’ll die earlier 

If you want to live longer (and spend more of those years in good health), sleep must be high on your to-do list. Consistent sleep patterns are key. According to the American College of Cardiology, who analysed data from a whopping 172,321 people, if you sleep well, for long enough and feel rested when you wake, you are 30% less likely to die prematurely, 21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 19% less likely to die from cancer, and 40% from other causes.

Ready to feel great?

10. Get more sleep, you’ll be happier 

We all know everything looks better after a decent night’s sleep. There’s not a single pasture that is not greener. It’s official. A good night’s sleep means you’ll be happier and more satisfied with life. That’s enough for me! 

Are you struggling with sleep right now? Why not book in a call and find out how I can help.

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