Sleep and Your Health

Is cutting back on sleep the only answer to meet the demands of modern life and your never-ending “to-do” list?

Many of us get overwhelmed around the holidays and lose sleep with hosting parties, entertaining guests, buying presents for family and friends and on top of all that, having a full time job and possibly a family to support. I can understand why people say, there is never enough time for sleep!!”

This is not true! Sleep is one of the most important things to do for your body. Just as nutrition and exercise are essential for optimal health, so is sleep! The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your everyday life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort!

Sleep consists of a series of distinct cycles and stages that restore and refresh your body and mind. Even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

While you rest, your brain stays busy, overseeing a wide variety of biological maintenance tasks that keep you running in top condition and prepare you for the day ahead. In stage 4 of your REM cycle, blood flow is directed towards your muscles to restore physical energy. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential. Regularly skimping on sleep can lead to….

  • Fatigue, lack of motivation
  • Poor cardiovascular function
  • Decreased immune system function
  • Glucose and insulin abnormalities
  • Deregulation of hormones that control appetite
  • Possible weight gain
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Mental impairments
  • Loss of energy and feeling of exhaustion
  • Anxiety, depression, moodiness and irritability
  • Memory problems and trouble paying attention
  • Delayed reactions and decreased ability to learn
  • Limited ability to multitask and difficulty making decisions

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Newborns, children and teens may need anywhere from 10-18 hours of sleep per the National Sleep Foundation. Deep sleep (stage 4) renews the body and REM sleep (occurs 70-90 minutes after going to sleep) renews the mind.

To learn more about healthy living and lifestyle modifications, schedule an appointment with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian and founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind.