Tag Archives: Researchers at Chicago University

Take Charge of Your Health: Get More Sleep

By Guest Blogger, Sarah C.,

Take Charge of Your Health: Get More Sleep

Man Relaxing Under the Sun — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When it comes to getting healthy we hear an awful lot about exercise regimes and fad diets. What we don’t hear quite as much about is sleep. Why is that? Maybe it’s because sleep is something you can do for free!

 

Obviously diet and exercise are important but the lack of attention paid to sleep is surprising considering how vital a role it plays in both our physical and mental health.

 

What’s more, how well we sleep also plays a huge part in our capacity for exercise and our ability to maintain a healthy diet. So, while those two might be the pillars of a healthy life, good sleep is the foundation on which they stand.

 

Read on below to discover just how important sleep is for your health and why you should spend more time thinking about it…

 

Boost to the immune system

 

Our bodies are amazing things, while we lie asleep at night they get busy and go to work repairing themselves from the hardships of the day. If our sleep is broken these processes are obviously disrupted and don’t function nearly as well. That in a nutshell is why we feel bad if we don’t get sufficient sleep.

 

One very important process that takes place while we sleep is the production of cytokines, also known as the things that bravely fight off bacteria and viruses. These little guys are the cornerstone of our immune system.

 

If we’re sleep-deprived our immune system becomes impaired, meaning we are less able to fight off infection and less able to bounce back once we become infected. The result is more colds, more flu and more sick days to get over them. Not fun!

 

The heart of the matter

 

Not only does sleep improve your resistance to viruses such flu and colds, it also reduces your risk of being afflicted by a whole host of more serious conditions. Chief amongst these are strokes, heart disease and heart attacks.

 

When it comes to sleep and heart health the exact mechanisms at play aren’t exactly known. One theory simply relates to wear and tear, when we sleep our blood pressure drops and our heart has to do less work. If we sleep less, our heart doesn’t get this break.

 

This means two people of the very same age may have hearts who have done considerably different amounts of work, simply due to a difference in sleep patterns.

 

Has this info got you clutching at your chest in surprise? Well, for advice on how to get a handle on your own sleep patterns why not turn to those in the know, head on over to the Sleep Advisor for specialist advice.

 

Improves weight loss

 

So you’ve been up every morning jogging and you’ve been knocking back those disgusting wheatgrass smoothies but still your waistline hasn’t budged. Why is this? Well, it could be because you’re not getting enough shuteye.

 

Firstly, when we are sleepy we have reduced willpower, meaning we are far more likely to hit the candy jar than when we’ve slept well.

 

Secondly, even if you’ve the willpower to resist temptation, not getting enough sleep will still impact your weight. Not fair I know!

 

Researchers at Chicago University have discovered that our bodies actually process food less efficiently when tired. Apparently when sleep-deprived our fat cells suffer from a condition called ‘metabolic grogginess’. Who knew?

 

Without getting too deep into technicalities, when tired our fat cells are unable to correctly respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin controls how fatty acids and lipids get used and stored. When tired it seems our bodies end up storing more fat than it should.

 

What’s more, metabolic grogginess can lead to fat being stored in the wrong places, such as the tissue in our liver. The result of this can be diabetes. Yikes!

 

So, keep up the jogs and keep knocking back those ‘tasty’ green leaf drinks by all means. But also add a couple of extra hours in bed to your regime and you’ll soon be dropping a few notches on your belt.

 

A brighter tomorrow

 

Sleep isn’t just good for our physical health it’s also strongly linked to our mental health. Such is the link in fact, it’s been reported that insomniacs are five times more likely to suffer from depression as well-rested individuals.

 

Once again the exact reasons for the link between sleep and mental health aren’t completely understood. What we do know is that while we sleep our body attempts to regulate the levels of stress hormones in our system. If this process is constantly interrupted it stands to reasons that it will be less successful, resulting in imbalances and with them a less balanced emotional outlook.

 

There you have it – four reasons why sleep is essential for your health. Who knew that lying in bed for a few more hours could be so good for you? Nighty night!

Tia, and TipsfromTia.com  is trying to keep you looking good and
feeling good, from the inside out. If you’ve got a problem or a tip email me! Be sure to Like and share on Facebook or Follow on Twitter or Instagram.