By Justin Pearce D.C. | Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center
Although we tend to think of sleep as a period in which not much is happening in the body, nothing could be further from the truth. During sleep, muscles repair themselves, memories consolidate in the brain, food is digested, nutrients are delivered throughout the body, and hormones that regulate growth and appetite are manufactured. After a good night’s sleep, we wake up ready to concentrate, make decisions and go!
Most people need seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Do without it at your own peril: Many of the chronic diseases that affect Americans today are caused, or worsened, by too little or poor-quality sleep. We know good sleep can help maintain a healthy weight; improve concentration and productivity; reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke; reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar levels; and improve immune system function.
Maintain a healthy weight. Sufficient sleep increases the metabolic rate, allowing the gastrointestinal tract to digest the day’s food intake and deliver important nutrients and energy throughout the body. Adults who cut their sleep short are 55 percent more likely to be overweight or obese; children who don’t get enough sleep are 89 percent more likely to be overweight. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t deprive your body of sleep! (Plus … if you’re sleeping you won’t be snacking on those empty calories we tend to go for when we’re tired.)
Improved concentration and productivity. When we’re tired, it’s difficult to focus, think and make decisions. We make jokes about rough Mondays for a reason. After a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in, the alarm clock seems to come too early on Mondays. This makes us all cranky and difficult. As tempting as it is to stay up a late, sleep in longer on the weekends, don’t do it. Your Monday self will thank you.
Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleeping less than seven hours a night is directly linked to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Reduce inflammation. We talk about inflammation a lot for a reason – it drives all disease processes. We know that good sleep can drive down inflammation in the body. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is at its lowest level during sleep. Deprive your body of sleep and those cortisol levels don’t have the opportunity to decline. Chronically elevated cortisol levels increase inflammation. Further, for those who are diabetic, or pre-diabetic, sufficient sleep allows your liver, pancreas and adrenal glands to regulate blood sugar levels.
Sleep improves immune function. If you are sick and tired of being sick – get some rest! When your body rests, it resets many, many processes. If you don’t give the gut (where your immune system lives) an opportunity to rest, inflammation will set in and continue to rise. This makes it difficult for your body to protect itself from the bacteria and viruses that are constantly looking for an opportunity to invade and take over. Those who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are three times more likely to get a cold than others.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, the solution is not to take a pill. Your poor sleep isn’t caused by the lack of a medication. At Millpond, we believe in scientific testing to uncover the root causes of poor sleep and address them.
Not sure if your gut is at fault? If you have diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating; if you’ve been told you had e coli; or even if you had mono in high school, you likely have gut issues that could be affecting your ability to sleep. It’s time to dive into those issues so your body can get the sleep it deserves. Stop by our office and pick up a stool kit. Or give us a call and we will ship the kit to you – wherever you are. We would love to help you get better, healthier sleep.
To learn more, give our office a call at (859) 219-0617, stop by the office at 3650 Boston Road, Suite 188, Lexington, visit us online at MillpondWellnessCenter.com or like us on Facebook!