“Lack of sleep is like a broken water pipe in your home. It will leak down into every nook and cranny of your physiology.” —Matthew Walker
Our health is determined by our physiology which is tied to our evolution as a human species. We cannot detach this part of our being even in today’s modern society with all the cures and elixirs that promise to “fix” our alignments. SLEEP is so fundamental to our existence and yet, it is the most overlooked aspect of our health.
Forty years ago, the average American slept an extra 2 hours each night. The average American today sleeps 6 hours a night. This missing 2 hours is wrecking more havoc in our lives than most people understand. The research shows that this missing 2 hours is affecting us at the macro level, you may experience this as depression, poor decision making and binge eating. But the truly surprising finding is that our insufficient sleep is affecting our cellular function; down to each cells ability to do its job properly.
Lack of sleep over a long period of time means you are getting hit with a double whammy:
- Cells can’t detect when to release insulin because they are half asleep.
- Cells on the other side of this process, stop responding to the insulin that is released.
Both scenarios over time cause us to experience poor health and for many it is in the form of Type II Diabetes. All because we are sleep deprived by 2 hours!
By only getting 6 hours of sleep your bodies physiologic system is being distorted at the cellular level. When you only get 6 hours of sleep a night you are waking up with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These are some of the adverse effects caused by high cortisol levels due to lack of sleep:
- Motivation will be lower. It’s easier to sit on the couch then to get motivated to workout.
- Appetite hormones will be confused. The sleep deprived individual eats 300 more calories a day then the person who is well-rested.
- The type of food you chose to eat will be more calorically dense and less nutritionally dense.
- Training performance will decrease by 30%. Your effort will be more labored and less efficient.
- Sleep deprivation causes people to make more impulsive decisions.
- And, yes you will not look as good naked– studies have shown this!!
There is hope! While we can’t bank sleep deprivation on the weekends, you can start to get the sleep you need and benefit from the cumulative positive affects no matter how old you are. The night-to-night sleep we get is important for long term health and prolongs the effects of dementia as we age. Even 60 more minutes a night will start to have a positive impact on your brain function. Your frontal lobe will be less likely to push you towards the couch and your thought process will be clearer. By going to sleep one hour earlier each night you will give your cells the rest they need. Here are some good tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Try to eat dinner by 6 pm and stay away from high carb food.
- Take a 10-minute walk and/or have a cup of herbal tea after dinner.
- Stretch for 10 minutes and incorporate 10-30 minutes of meditation before heading to bed.
- Take a warm shower as part of your sleep hygiene routine.
- Turn off all electronics and put your phone away at least 1 hour before bed (research has shown 2 hours is ideal).
- If the room is hot, cool it down.
Sleep is important to your overall health! Create a routine to get into bed and if you are struggling with getting to sleep experiment with different sleeping apps. We like to use the app CALM.