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6 Reasons Why Sleep Is Important For Your Health

A good sleep is really important for your health, in fact, just as important as exercising and healthy eating. But unfortunately, there’s a lot of things that are now starting to interfere with people’s sleep patterns, such as stress, high workloads and over-active minds.

Gone are the care-free teen days of sleeping in until 10/11am and having a solid 10 hours! By 10am now I’ve done the washing up, been to the gym and done a solid 1.5 hours at work!

But sleep isn’t something to neglect and I’m going to tell you why…

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Improve Concentration and Productivity

Ever been sat in a meeting after a less than restful sleep, completely zoned out and agreed to something you had no idea on? – just think of poor chandler from friends.

A lack of sleep affects the way we function and perform and has a negative effect on cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. It means we find it harder to pay attention, we become less alert, more easily confused and our judgement becomes skewed.

Poor Sleep Linked to Higher Body Weight

Studies have shown that people short sleep duration are more likely to gain weight than those 8-hours-a-nighters.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily functioning of our hormones, in this instance the hormones ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates appetite) and leptin (a hormone that suppresses appetite and encourages the body to use energy). A lack of sleep can actually reduce leptin in the body which has a negative effect on our weight control.

Poor Sleep Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes too much sugar in your blood due to the inefficiency of the hormone insulin.

Skimping out on shut eye can not only affect the hormones mentioned above, but also the hormones; insulin (regulator of blood sugar levels) and cortisol (regulator of stress) [link to blog 8 ways to de-stress].

Insulin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat and muscle cells. With an ongoing lack of sleep, less insulin is released in the body after you eat – not good. Meanwhile, your body secretes more cortisol which also makes it harder for insulin to do its job. To net effect = too much glucose in the bloodstream and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Poor Sleep & Depression

Poor sleep has been strongly linked to mental health issues such as depression. When sleep is disrupted it throws our hormones out of whack and can lead to increased tension, irritability and fatigue.

With fatigue you exercise less (and I don’t mean your high energy fitness classes, but just your daily living activity), leading to a decline in fitness. Eventually you find yourself in a vicious cycle of inactivity and disturbed sleep, causing both physical and mood-related symptoms.

Improved Immune System

Studies have shown that a good sleep helps to improve immune cells known as T cells.

T cells help fight virus-infected cells such as flu, HIV, herpes and cancer cells by activating a sticky type of protein that allows them to attach to and kill infected cells.

During sleep, the stickiness of this protein is stronger as hormones that would usually inhibit the stickiness are much lower during a state of sleep.

Poor Sleep Leading to Heart Disease

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart with studies showing that people who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, regardless of weight, age, smoking and exercise habits.

A lack of sleep causes disruptions in biological processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation. Without long periods of sleep certain chemicals are activated that keep the body from having extended periods in which the heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Overtime, this can lead to higher blood pressure during the day and a greater chance of cardiovascular problems.