How important is sleep for you?
If you ask your friends and family how much sleep they get on a regular basis, most likely, the average response will be 6 hours. Then ask them what time they usually go to bed, and they'll likely reply with 11:00-11:30PM. Not too long ago in 1960, on average, people slept 10 hours per night. Guess what the average is nowadays? 5-6 hours per night, meaning that most people you interact with everyday is sleep deprived! 6 hours was my response to that question before I realized the importance of sleep. Honestly, 6 hours was all that I thought I needed. I was able to function well, got to work on time, and was relatively engaged throughout the day. But was I at my optimal level? I don't know…at the time I felt like I was.
In my quest to improve my health, I started to gain more information about optimum conditions for your body. I started educating myself online through popular health and wellness sites and podcasts like Underground Wellness, Bulletproof Exec, Ameer Rosic, to name a few. It was through this self-funded and self-directed online health education that I began to learn the truth. Sleep was more important than we have become accustomed to believe!
What does too little sleep cause?
The flip side of getting enough sleep is NOT getting enough sleep! So, let's start with what happens when your body does not get enough sleep, or better put, your body is sleep deprived. To quote Ameer Rosic, from his Sleep Solution program, below are some of the many side effects of sleep deprivation:
- Unhealthy hormone levels
- No energy
- Weight gain
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
Wait a minute…I can't speak about Cancer or PMS, but once I started to assess my daily symptoms, I certainly was able to identify times when I experienced all of the symptoms listed above. I started to take note and monitor my sleep patterns. I had always joked that for anything you wanted, “there was an app for that!”. So, I set out to find the right biohacking app that would allow me to track my sleep data. What I ended up using was a couple of different apps, one to track my sleep and one that allows me to track how I felt.
Interestingly, what I began to see is that when I slept at least 7.5-8 hours, I felt great! I felt energetic, I woke up very easily and I felt vibrant…my skin even looked better. Really? is that all it takes, I would think to myself. If so, I was ready to sign up. So I did.
What happens when you sleep?
You can liken sleep to the battery that powers your automobile. You're not going to go very far in your car without ample charge in your battery…you can only go so far. Similarly, your body will not be able to go too long without sleep. Why do we sleep? What are the benefits of sleeping? Quite simply, your body needs to recharge at night to gain enough power to get through the day. Sleeping at least 8 hours per night will do amazing things to your body. One such benefit is the decreased secretion of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin lines the fundus of the stomach and epsilon of the cells of the pancreas and stimulate hunger. Guess what?..sleeping at least 8 hours per night will decrease the signals of ghrelin and, you guessed it, helps you to control your appetite and, in turn, helps you in your weight and fat loss goals! That alone should encourage us all to sleep longer. But, wait…there's more!
As all should be aware, our bodies are comprised of a complex inverse relationships between numerous hormones. Sleep deprivation can be quite destructive on hormone levels. And for a male, Testosterone especially can be quite impacted! Take for instance that men over the age of 40 tend to lose 1-2% of their testosterone levels for every year. So, at age 80, you would expect that the testosterone levels of a male will be quite significantly less than a younger counterpart. However, in today's world of high stress, high EMFs, environmental toxins, processed food diets and low exercise levels (all topics for a later post), researchers and doctors are identifying men in their 20's with the testosterone levels of men in their 80's. Not good for anyone! As a man, why do we need sleep? Well, it turns out that sleep is a time when our bodies generate testosterone. So, one of the sleep benefits is that the more sleep you get, the more testosterone your body creates.
What about Brain fog? Brain fog is the instance when your mind goes blank for a moment. For example, you can't remember the person's name that you are talking to, or you can't remember a simple task that you made a mental note of. It's happened to all of us at one time or another. Well, if you're not getting enough sleep, you're probably getting brain fog more often. Sleep, or lack thereof, also correlates to ADHD in children. If you want to improve your children's behaviors, or, more importantly, decrease their negative behaviors, get your kids to sleep early enough so they get ample sleep every night!
Why post this tonight?
Tonight is one of 2 nights during the year when we change our clocks on the West Coast. Spring ahead and Fall back. As we go to sleep tonight, we will change our clocks 1 hour back. As a result, we will gain an hour of sleep.
Use tonight as an opportunity to start the habit of getting more sleep. It will be a habit that will keep on giving. And, if you make the effort to get more in tune with your body, you will begin to realize the benefits of more sleep through all aspects of your life. Let this be your chance to recognize the importance of sleep!
We would love to hear how you have experienced the benefits of increased sleep. Please come back and share. But first, get a good night's sleep!
¡Buenas noches y que sueñes con los angelitos!
I am fueled by "Paying It Forward in Health" on this site.My main driver in creating this website, alongside my family, is to share our ongoing family health journey in hopes of encouraging others to have the health epiphany that we have been blessed to experience.
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