When wanting to improve our health, the first thing we typically look to is our diet and exercise habits. And while both things are highly important to living a healthy lifestyle, there’s a thirst, equally important factor to consider: sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining good health and yet one in four Canadian adults are not getting enough sleep every night.
It may seem like no big deal to lose sleep here and there — things come up in our lives that can disrupt our regular routine — but it’s important to not make it a habit because a lack of sleep can have serious health implications.
We already know this to some degree. We’ve all had bad nights where we wake up feeling drowsy, irritable, and just plain out of it. But if these are only the immediate symptoms of sleep deprivation, you can only imagine how much worse the long-term effects can be.
Effects on Brain Health
Sleep plays a crucial role in our brain health. It is responsible for cementing memories and skills, for processing trauma, and even regulating our emotions. So, when we consistently lack sleep, our brain health suffers.
Sleep deprivation causes many cognitive issues in both the long and short term. First of all, our memory can worsen as our brain is not given the opportunity to process information. For the same reason, we may experience a shortened attention span and difficulty reasoning.
Consistent lack of sleep has also been linked to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. When we do not sleep enough, our brains have a harder time regulating emotion. This can also present as irritability and anger issues.
Our hormone levels can also get off balance when we don’t sleep enough. Testosterone, for example, is replenished while we sleep, and our bodies need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted rest to complete this function. If our testosterone levels are off balance, we have a higher risk of depression, decreased sex drive, and fatigue.
Effects on Weight
While we don’t usually attribute our weight to our sleep habits, the two are in fact closely linked. And when we don’t get enough quality sleep, we can experience negative effects on our weight.
First and foremost, poor sleep puts us at a higher risk for obesity as it can actually make us consume more calories and crave carbohydrate rich foods that are not conducive to good health.
This is because our brain reduces the production of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for telling our brains that we are full. At the same time, it increases the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates our appetite. On top of this, our tiredness from the lack of sleep reduces our will power to resist our cravings and do our workouts. Over time, all of this combined can increase our weight, and in sever cases, increase our risk for diabetes.
But weight gain is not the only thing that heightens our likelihood of developing diabetes. A lack of sleep also effects our body’s production of insulin, which is a direct cause of the disease.
Effects on Disease Resistance
If you find that you always have a cold or a flu, it could be because you’re not getting enough sleep. When you consistently don’t get enough quality sleep, your immune system is reduced, making you more susceptible to illness.
More severely, sleep deprivation can be attributed to many other health issues, including various cardiovascular diseases.
During sleep, your blood pressure reduces, relieving your cardiovascular system, so when you lack sleep, your blood pressure remains at a heightened level for longer periods of time, leading to heart disease and stroke.
Maintaining good health with high quality sleep
As we can see, sleep has a major impact on our overall health. Without quality sleep, we put our minds and bodies at risk for illness that could have otherwise been avoided.
As adults, we need to get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night for optimal health. But we know that that’s sometimes easier said than done. If you’re having issues falling asleep and staying asleep at night, there are tips and tricks that can help.
One of them is making sure you’re comfortable with the right mattress for your sleep style. If you want to learn more about picking the right mattress for you, reach out to our experts at Majestic Mattress in Kelowna and West Kelowna!