Night, Night, Sleep Tight – It’s Good for You
We may view sleep as several hours of time-out from life, but our bodies do not. Sleep is their time to get our bodies ready for the next day: Take out the garbage, put things back in place, fluff the pillows, and so on.
It turns out that our bodies are just as busy when we sleep as when we’re awake. So let’s talk about it. Now, I have to tell you, some of this may sound like science fiction, but it’s the real deal.
Did you know a lack of sleep causes brain damage? Oh, yes, indeedy! Whether you party, work, etc. too long and too often instead of getting your zzzs, you can whack your brain harder than a concussion.
Sleep Tight — If You Know What’s Good for You!
Sleep is even more important to your health than exercise ever thought of being. Exercise is important, but sleep is more so. If you have to make a choice, choose it.
And did you know shorting yourself on sleep means your “eat-everything-in-sight” hormone wins the battle over your “that’s-enough-now” hormone. No matter how much you’ve already eaten, hunger pangs show up. Worse, your body doesn’t want celery; it wants sweets.
And when the activity of your “that’s-enough-now” hormone, formally known as leptin, drops, so does your thyroid, which slows metabolism to a crawl — right when it’s needed for the big push in fat burning that happens only during sleep. Who knew fat burning is a function of sleep?
Not getting enough makes your cells less sensitive to insulin, too. So the old bod cranks up the insulin-making to compensate, interfering with the restoration work.
Worse, without enough sleep, your body gets to feeling threatened and shoots out cortisol so you can fight enemies, but you end up fighting yourself.
Inadequate sleep also whacks your immune system, your protector against all health foes.
And on, and on, and on.
Sleep is a big deal
Sleep is a big deal. It’s when your body, led by a parade of the endocrine glands, gets restored for the next day. And it starts at 10pm wherever you live. If you’re not in bed by 10, the process starts without you — which doesn’t work all that well because your wakefulness is using what your body is trying to restore.
Once the endocrine glands are all ship-shape, your brain starts the “brain sleep” that detoxes your brain. There appears to be no substitute for brain sleep.
Here’s how it works: When you sleep, your brain cells shrink by up to 60%. This widens the spaces between the cells so your brain can bring in the hoses and wash out all the crud that’s accumulated through the day. The detritus gets washed into your blood, which takes it to the liver, which gets rid of it.
Then the brain cells return to their normal size, and you’re set for another day.
If, however, you don’t get enough sleep, the brain can’t do its cleaning ritual, toxins accumulate, and the brain starts getting cluttered. Then brain cells can’t get back to their normal size because there’s no room.
Even one night of poor sleep can impair memory, problem solving and the ability to think clearly temporarily.
While results of one, even many, nights of poor or inadequate sleep can be repaired, you don’t want to press your luck by not getting good sleep regularly.
You want to get rid of the toxins that lead to poor thinking, then forgetfulness, then dementia.
And it’s not just the brain that falters. Like nutrition, sleep affects all of health. I talk about how it all works in the Moving to Health program.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I do realize life conspires against getting enough sleep. My daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was four years old, and even then, I had to bribe her. Life happens
But whatever the circumstances, do whatever you can to make sleep happen.
God is good,
Copyright by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved
P.S. Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how things work-or don’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free e-zine at Information is power.