Sleep issues are epidemic in our society. Many of us go through our days feeling tired and rundown. Often, we feel fine until we hit that dreaded afternoon wall of exhaustion and end up in a long line at a coffee shop for a hit of caffeine to power through the rest of the day. We might even joke about how little sleep we get, maybe even take pride in believing we’re able to function well on only five hours of sleep while we’re working on an important project or studying for college exams.
But chronic sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. In fact, it has been linked to diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. I have said this many times, but it bears repeating: sleep needs to be a priority. You know your body won’t function at its best when you don’t eat regular meals, right? You also know the opposite is true, that your body doesn’t function at its best when you overeat at mealtimes. You know that the right balance of regular, healthy meals throughout the day is crucial to your health and survival.
Getting good sleep is just as crucial because sleep is about restoration. It’s when your busy brain can finally rest its neurons and create proteins that help repair cell damage while your immune system produces infection-fighting antibodies to battle bacteria and viruses. And in children, the brain releases growth hormones during sleep. It’s absolutely vital that you get enough rest so your body can recover from your day and prepare for the next one.
We all know that when we don’t get enough sleep we can feel foggy, spaced out, emotional, irritable, and we have trouble focusing. And if it continues long enough, this lack of sleep can lower your body’s defenses and put you at risk of developing a chronic illness.
Here are some conditions that are known to be caused by ongoing sleep deprivation:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, research has found that sleep duration and quality can be predictors of levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control. Recent studies suggest that the better you sleep, the better able your body is at regulating your blood sugar.
Sleep apnea is a common cause of insomnia, and people who suffer from it have been found to have an increased risk of hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeat. According to Harvard Medical School, for people with hypertension, one night without enough sleep can cause elevated blood pressure all through the following day.
The link between depression and sleep is complex. It’s a bit of a “what came first, the chicken or the egg” problem. Is the person depressed because he can’t sleep, or is it that he can’t sleep because he’s depressed? There is research that shows that people suffering from both depression and sleep apnea experience a decrease in depression once the sleep apnea has been treated and they start sleeping well again. The National Sleep Foundation claims that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well.
It’s easy to brush aside the importance of sleep as we navigate through our busy lives. Getting quality sleep is just as important as eating well and exercising. The good news is that if you’ve been sleeping poorly, you don’t need to worry that the damage is already done. It’s never too late to start sleeping well, and your body will do its best to repair and restore itself while you’re getting the rest you so desperately need.
I’d love to help you with your sleep struggles so you can get the healthy rest you need. Book a complimentary call with me today!