Having a newborn, just 2 weeks old, SLEEP (or the lack thereof) has become a major life factor. What I've learned from my first 2 kiddos (this isn't my first rodeo ;) ) is that my sleep must be protected....for my sanity, for my health, and for our family. What I've come to realize is sleep is so much more important and is essential to being healthy. I’ll go over why.
Sleep curbs inflammation – Did you know that many diseases are linked to chronic inflammation? I personally have had bouts of inflammation in my GI tract, and can 100% attribute it to increased stress/decreased sleep. Inflammation is also a contributer to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even premature aging. Inflammation is our body's “defense mechanism” whose goal is to protect us from infection or injury. But when it goes unchecked and becomes chronic, it starts doing more harm than good. Sleep is a natural and easy way to combat inflammation – it's been shown that people who get at least 6 hours of sleep per night have lower blood levels of inflammatory proteins, one being C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack.
Sleep decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes – this one baffles me. Experimental studies have shown that when healthy young individuals were restricted to 4 hours of sleep per night for 6 nights in a row, they developed symptoms of type 2 diabetes! That is unreal. It's no wonder I feel like I get sugar lows and sugar cravings after having a few back-to-back sleepless nights while passing through a “leap” during my kiddos baby ages.
Sleep can help you maintain a healthy body weight – There is so much truth to this, and here's why. Poor sleep leads to weight gain. Multiple studies have shown that due to hormones, blood sugar regulation, and energy/motivation to exercise, people who average less than 6 hours per night weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. This is true for kids too, so protect your children's sleep! Sleep deprivation alters hunger hormones like ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. So, if you aren't getting enough sleep, your body is going to feel hungry more often, leading to more calories, which leads to weight gain.
Sleep improves concentration and productivity – Have you ever felt like your to-do list was a mile long, but you just didn't have the motivation to do it? Getting adequate sleep can help! And not only will it give you the motivation to “get going” and be productive, you'll also be much more efficient with your time since concentration is improved! This, in-turn, will give you more time to relax...or SLEEP. So, it really is a cycle – give yourself time to rest, and it will pay you back, since it'll take you less time to complete your to-do list. ;)
Sleep improves your immune system – Right now, more than ever – during the middle of a global pandemic – this is so important! Along with good nutrition and exercise, SLEEP will help boost your immune system, making you more able to fight COVID-19. It's been found that those who get less than 7 hours of sleep are 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who sleep 8 hours or more.
There you have it, 5 benefits of SLEEP to your health. Now, how do we ensure we get the shut-eye that's essential to reap these benefits?
Strive for 7 or more hours each night
Skip the extra TV show before bed
Prepare! Pack lunches and set out kids clothes the night before so you can sleep a few extra minutes each morning.
Shut off your phone and other devices when you get into bed. Not only can a few minutes of mindless scrolling easily turn into 45 minutes, but the blue light greatly affects your ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep.