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The Power of a Good Night's Sleep

8 reasons Why Prioritising Rest is Key to Optimal Health


Man feeling tired and sleepy sitting at desk looking into empty cup

I’m sure you’re already aware that getting more sleep is a great idea, but here’s something we all fall prey to: knowing something doesn’t mean doing it. Sometimes I feel it’s because people aren’t completely sure why sleep is so important for their health and, without that vital piece of information in place, it’s hard to persuade yourself it’s something you should be doing when there are so many other things calling for your attention and your valuable time.

 

So today I thought I would offer up some compelling reasons why making sleep a priority really is a good idea!

 

What do I mean by making sleep a priority? 


Man holding mug of coffee which says "great ideas start with coffee"
I avoid caffeine after midday to help me wind down and sleep better at night

While not everything that happens each day is within our control, but there are certain habits and routines we can engage in that will likely improve the quality of our sleep each night. You will likely already know many of the things you could do to make sleep more likely to happen such as:

  • a better nighttime routine

  • dimming lights

  • winding down properly

  • minimising screen time

  • not drinking coffee too late in the day

  • and finishing eating a couple of hours before bed.


As I said we don’t always have full control of how our days runs and some people can suffer from illness or certain conditions that will affect the quality of their sleep.


For example if you have health reasons that leave you struggling with sleep such as pain, night sweats, restless legs or chronic stress then this will need a little more delving into of course. We have seen again and again over the years how various health related symptoms can have a massive impact on sleep, and through our clinic we have helped countless clients make improvements in this area. Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about that.


If your sleep is all over the place because of young children, I hear you too and I sympathise, honestly I do! Broken sleep can really take its toll. All I can say is ‘this too shall pass’ and to try and double down on self-care in the meantime.


Below I discuss the impact that a lack of sleep has on the body, and in my opinion, the most compelling reasons why everyone should prioritise sleep.


This list is not exhaustive by any means, but from my own personal experience (see reasons 2, 3 and 4!) and what I see with clients, missing out on good quality sleep every night can have a huge impact on your health.


I believe sleep to be the unsung hero of your well-being.


So if you’re trying to lose weight, balance your hormones or manage an ongoing condition, you really should keep reading. Discover the game-changer that could transform your health.


Let's talk about sleep –– and what the lack of it is doing inside your body.


How poor sleep affects your body



Person stepping onto weighing scales
Getting good sleep helps your metabolism keep your weight in check

1 Promotes weight gain

Are those stubborn extra pounds refusing to budge? Many studies point to sleep restriction leading to increased levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreased levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for fullness. Not only that, chemical changes inside the brain also alter the kinds of foods you fancy eating after a poor nights’ sleep. So, by ensuring sufficient sleep, you're not just avoiding late-night snacking and craving crap the next day; you're setting the stage for a metabolism that works in your favour.


2 Creates more inflammation

Practically every cause of dis-ease in the body (and also disease) is related one way or another to inflammation.


Inflammation can wreak havoc on your body, and poor sleep might be fanning the flames. Researchers found a clear link between sleep deprivation and increased inflammatory markers. So, when you prioritise sleep, you're not only going to feel well-rested; you're actively reducing the risk of inflammatory conditions of all kinds.


3 Destabilises your hormones

Your body is a finely-tuned orchestra of hormones, and sleep plays the role of the conductor. Skimping on sleep can throw this delicate symphony off balance, impacting everything from stress hormones to those governing metabolism (like hunger and fullness) as well as female hormones. For women, sleeping well is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.


When you don’t sleep, what might be on the cards includes menstrual irregularities due to interruptions your body’s natural wake-sleep rhythm, exacerbated PMS and perimenopausal symptoms as well as problems conceiving, too.


4 More stress on top of your existing stress

Feel like stress is running the show? Don’t skimp on sleep.


Author of the book Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker, highlights the crucial role of sleep in emotional regulation. Get less sleep, expect heightened emotional reactivity, increased stress and anxiety, and symptoms of mental health disorders like depression.


Getting enough sleep means you're arming yourself against the stressors of tomorrow.


5 Poor memory

Ever wondered why a good night's sleep leaves you feeling mentally refreshed? It’s because sleep contributes to memory consolidation and cognitive function. When you prioritise sleep you're enhancing your brain's ability to tackle challenges, adapt to new circumstances, make better decisions, and retain information better and I think you will agree that that sure does sound like something we all need.


6 Compromised immunity

Picture sleep as your body's superhero, especially when it comes to the immune system. Insufficient sleep weakens your defences, making you more susceptible to infections and worse – studies point to lack of sleep also being a risk factor in a variety of cancers.


7 Greater risk of heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of illness and death across the western world and there are a huge number of risk factors involved, from smoking to being overweight.


Interestingly, there is an increasing amount of attention being given to poor sleep and cardiovascular risk. It’s thought to be linked to the non-REM sleep stages, during which your whole body slows down (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing) and this is restorative for the heart. Now imagine getting less sleep or interrupted sleep! Small wonder that chronic sleep deprivation is linked to a wide range of cardio conditions, like high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack.


MEdical professional performing blood glucuse finger prick test with glucometre
Lack of sleep is linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes

8 More likely to get diabetes

Watch out for the blood sugar rollercoaster!


If you’ve ever worked with me as a one-to-one client, or on one of my online programmes you might have seen me talk about blood glucose levels being key for consistent energy levels, management of cravings, weight loss and hormonal health.  


Lack of sleep is one of the lifestyle factors that is linked to insulin resistance, which can start paving the way for type 2 diabetes.


We love working with clients in the area of insulin resistance and prevention of diabetes so if this is something that is on your radar do get in touch.


My own problems with sleep

As someone who has struggled with sleep issues myself, I’ve had to really work on this area.  I know how my health can go downhill when I don’t sleep and I’ve never been one to fall asleep easily at night. My husband on the other hand could fall asleep on a washing line.


But for me to get a good nights rest, I stick to the same bedtime routine, screens go off early and I watch what I eat late in the evening. And thankfully it works most of the time. But I know if I go off plan it makes sleep and the following 2 or 3 days quite challenging.

 

If you’re struggling with quality sleep, I advise you to keep a food and activity diary each day. Tracking your daily habits can provide valuable insights into factors that may be affecting your sleep, such as caffeine intake, exercise timing, or evening screen time. By identifying patterns and making small adjustments, you can take proactive steps towards improving your sleep quality and overall health.

 

If you’re tired of feeling tired and would like to chat about how we can help you get a good nights sleep, get in touch today. We offer a free health review where we can discuss your symptoms and explore some possible solutions personalised for you. Email call or book a call here

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