Sleep. We all know we need it, but with our twenty-four hour lifestyles, many people view sleep as a waste of time that could be better spent doing just about anything else.
Problem is, when you skimp on sleep you’re not only making yourself tired and compromising your ability to fight off everyday ills, you’re also speeding the aging process, driving weight gain and increasing your risk for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems.
Get enough sleep though and you’re treating your body to the greatest body and brain-boosting anti-aging treatment there is. So next time you think, “Oh, I can get by on four hours,” re-think your sleep strategy and set the alarm for a few hours later.
Lack of Sleep Makes You Fat
Under sleeping disrupts metabolism and hormonal balance in numerous ways, many of which reinforce each other. In fact, too few zzz’s set the stage for problems far weightier than just yawning a lot – you’re creating the perfect conditions for fat accumulation!
Too little sleep triggers these hormonal fat-makers:
- Too much cortisol — which cues your body to hold on to fat
- Too much ghrelin — which causes you to get hungry – the higher the levels, the hungrier you’ll be
- Not enough glucagon — which is essential for fat-burning
- Not enough leptin — which makes you feel full – come up short and you wind up eating more
- Not enough human growth hormone (HGH) — which, when levels drop, makes your weight more likely to rise
- Not enough adiponectin — which helps breakdown fat and promotes insulin sensitivity
Too Little Sleep Makes You Feel Older, Faster
Not getting enough quality sleep contributes to many of the pesky problems people write off as simply part of the aging process. We’re talking weight gain, slowed metabolism, memory issues, brain fog, weakened immunity and low moods — feeling irritable, helpless, easily frustrated, anxious, and/or depressed.
The good news is, often it’s not aging that’s the culprit, it’s a simple lack of sleep. To feel (and look) younger get a sound seven or eight hours a night, or as close to that as you can manage. Think of it as the cure for premature aging.
Not Enough Sleep Wrecks Your Health
Whether you know it or not, sleep is anything but unproductive — your brain and body are actually very active when you’re down for the count. They’re busy refreshing, repairing and rejuvenating just about every cell in the body, so if you don’t make time for sleep, you’re disabling your body’s ability to recharge and heal itself. In fact, while you’re snoozing, your body is performing a number of essential tasks to keep you vibrant. Among the biggies:
- Muscle repair. When you exercise, muscles break down. Then they rebuild, growing larger and stronger—but only during sleep.
- Brain chemistry balance. When you face a stressful challenge, your brain uses up supplies of key amino acids and other biochemicals which are restored when you sleep. That’s why you need more sleep, not less, when you are working extra hard.
- Removal of toxic waste from the brain. A part of our body known as “the glymphatic system” is responsible for clearing toxins from the brain – and it’s only active during sleep.
- Immune support. A library full of studies links lack of sleep to chronic disease but, on a more immediate level, you’ve probably noticed that when you’ve got too much going on and get run down, you’ll often catch a cold.
- Pain relief. If you skimp on sleep, your pain threshold tends to drop, so it’s essential to give your parasympathetic nervous system time to let your body rest, digest—and heal
- Memory boosts. Having senior moments or memory lapses? A lack of sleep could be to blame. Sleep is when you consolidate your memories—which means that without sleep your brain has a harder time processing, storing, and, ultimately, retrieving information.
In a nutshell, good, restful sleep keeps you vigorous, energized, and at a healthy weight – so get some of the good stuff tonight! Need to brush up on your sleeping skills?
Here are a few Pointers:
Darken your room with blackout curtains and/or get a sleep mask.
Turn off all electronic devices two hours before bed.
Stop caffeinated beverages completely, and avoid chocolate after 8 p.m
We sleep best in cool rooms, and warm beds, so if you’re having trouble sleeping, open the window or put on the AC, and get cozy under a blanket.
Dr. Frank Lipman. M.D. is an acclaimed Integrative Physician and the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. For over twenty years, his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their zest for life. Focused on sustainable wellness—instead of quick fixes—he offers patients a customized blend of Western medicine with acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques, physical therapy, and bodywork. In 2010, he developed Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health programs. He is the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again, Total Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health, the NY Times Bestseller, The New Health Rules and the upcoming 10 Reasons You Feel Old & Get Fat...
Image courtesy of Elisabet Dominguez.