Today is World Sleep Day. Recent studies show that getting a good night’s sleep is more important than you might think. Modern life certainly gets in the way of proper sleep, but it’s a fundamental part of living a healthy life. Sleep has important effects on your brain and body. Here are some of the most important reasons to prioritize sleep.
Inflammation & Immune System: Even a slight loss of sleep in one night can be hard on you. According to a UCLA study losing a few short hours can cause an increase in inflammation. Sleeping well can greatly benefit your cardiovascular health and protect against autoimmune disorders. According to The National Sleep Foundation recent studies show that a lack of sleep can boost white blood cell count, meaning your immune system goes into overdrive, much like it does when faced with stress. Many studies have shown that people are more susceptible to infections when they are sleep deprived while a good night’s sleep keeps your immune system functioning properly. Either way you look at it, sleep helps!
Healthy Weight Sleep and metabolism are very closely related. When you’re not well rested your body will try to make up for the lack of energy by driving up your appetite especially from quick energy sources like sugar. This is mostly due to an imbalance in hormones that cause both hunger and satiety. A severe lack of sleep is often compared to being intoxicated, impairing your ability to make good decisions in general when it comes to your health. With temptations all around us, it’s important to be able to focus on staying well by eating well — sleeping is an important first step.
Depression and Anxiety Many studies have shown that a lack of sleep or problems sleeping can both increase anxiety and predispose a person to depression. Depression and anxiety can also make sleep difficult. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your sleeping habits when confronting mental health issues.
Sleep & Cancer Treatment According to the National Cancer Institute almost half of cancer patients have trouble sleeping after treatment. Sleeping troubles can continue 2-5 years after cancer treatment. Emotional distress is one of the main reasons cancer patients can have trouble sleeping, but sleep is a vital part in keeping your stress levels in check to help your body fight cancer. If sleep is troubling you, don’t expect your doctor to think to ask you. Bring it up, and consider looking into all options to help you get some shut eye including herbs, psychological therapy, and pharmaceuticals.
How can diet influence sleep? As it turns out, most foods that are important for reducing your risk for cancer, may also help you sleep better. Meals that include complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats, and fresh herbs will do wonders for your body by activating positive hormonal and chemical reactions that promote a normal circadian rhythm. On the flip side avoid coffee or caffeinated beverages after 2pm and stay away from high calorie, spicy, rich dinners that may cause you to stay up from stomach upset or acid reflux at night.