Sleep is an unrecognised treasure. It helps our bodies to function properly and prevents sickness. In fact, lack of sleep and poor sleep quality has been linked to elevated cortisol levels (which can lead to obesity), illness, inflammation and imbalances in the body.
Poor sleep also affects our immune system, making us more susceptible to viruses. It’s not uncommon to have a few nights of poor sleep and then come down with the flu. Those of us who deprive our bodies of essential sleep will find that it is just as harmful as chronic over-eating and not exercising.
Even though you might be a yoga-loving, green juice-sipping vegetarian, none of it will counteract poor sleeping habits and minimal shut eye. Long-term sleep deprivation is detrimental to our overall health and can lead to increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. In one study that examined metabolism, two identical groups with the same diet and exercise regimen were compared with one difference: sleep deprivation. The group that slept well lost weight, while the sleep-deprived group gained it.
Sleep is by far my number one priority for people trying to get their health in check.
So do you have a healthy sleep cycle? An average sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and most people need about seven to nine hours’ sleep per day. That’s up to six cycles of sleep every 24 hours to feel rested.
Sleep and your gut-brain connection
Lack of sleep starts a hormonal chain reaction. Basically, sleep loss disrupts the hormone system, resulting in high blood glucose levels and increased insulin resistance, which leads to fat deposition inside and around the abdomen, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increased hunger signalling (ghrelin), and decreased satiety signal (leptin).
How to get your body ready for sleep
In today’s busy world, most of us are typing emails, checking the news and scrolling on social media just before bedtime. Others eat a late dinner and drink a couple of glasses of wine before hopping into bed. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good way to prepare your body to go to sleep. Try switching off from devices at least an hour before bed and instead read a book, or alternatively turn down the lights and take a bath. Minimise your alcohol consumption and eat your dinner earlier so you don’t feel too full and bloated.
We need to get our heads around the idea that sleep is not selfish. It is an essential part of staying well and functioning at our best. Rest assured, to be the best version of ourself and achieve our full potential each and every day, we need to prioritise sleep.
Ready to change your sleeping patterns and start living well? Join our Feel Fabulous by Friday program here.