Why is sleep so important?

November 19, 2021

Sleep in my opinion is the most underrated essential function to our bodies. Forget results for a minute. Let’s talk day to day functionality. Two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of sleep.* I doubt you’re surprised by that fact, but you’ll be shocked at the consequences. Reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker will scare the shit out of you. I recommend you read it. Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Inadequate sleep can disrupt blood sugar levels so profoundly that you could be classified pre-diabetic. It can set you on a path towards developing Alzheimer’s Disease, increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked, lead you towards a stroke, congestive heart failure, and/or further contribute to all major psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety.

You freaked yet? Good. You should be. Like I said, there are major consequences for not getting the recommended hours of sleep. Perhaps you have also noticed a desire to eat more when you’re tired? That’s not a coincidence. Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone that makes you feel hungry while suppressing a companion hormone that otherwise signals food satisfaction. Despite being full, you still want to eat more. It’s a proven recipe for weight gain in sleep deficient adults and children. Worse, if you attempt to diet, but don’t get enough sleep while doing so, it’s futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean body mass, not fat.

Point is, within the brain, sleep enriches a diversity of functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions and choices. Kindly servicing our psychological health, sleep recalibrates our emotional brain circuits, allowing us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges with cool-headed composure. Sleep restocks the armory of our immune system helping fight infection and sickness. Sleep also reforms the body’s metabolic state by fine-tuning the balance of insulin and circulating glucose. Sleep regulates our appetite, helping to control the body weight through healthy food selection rather than rash impulsivity. Sleep maintains a healthy microbiome within your gut from what we know of our nutritional health begins. Adequate sleep is intimately tied to the fitness of our cardiovascular system, lowing blood pressure while keeping our hearts in fine condition. A balanced diet and exercise is important, yes. But we can see sleep as a preeminent force in this health trinity. There are no proven biological functions that sleep is not good for.

*The world Health Organization and the National Sleep Foundation both stipulate an average eight hours of sleep per night for adults.

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