Sleep Health Benefits: The Importance of Sleep
Getting adequate restorative sleep is essential in maintaining optimal health. Sleep is important not only for physical health but also mental and emotional health, as well. Poor quality or inadequate sleep can have many consequences beyond feeling tired the following day. Lack of sleep or lack of restorative sleep can cause the following health related issues:
- Decreases mental performance, cognition, and concentration
- Impairs memory
- Increases inflammation
- Increases the risk of illness such as colds or upper respiratory infection (fun fact: even one poor night of sleep prior to any vaccination can impair how effective the vaccine is)
- Increases cardiovascular risk factors such as increased blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin resistance
- Elevates cortisol (our stress hormone)
- Increases the risk of digestive disorders: IBS, GERD/reflux, constipation, leaky gut (Check out these blogs on Gut Health and Leaky Gut)
- Contributes to hormone (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) imbalances
- Lowers pain threshold
- Increases migraine frequency and severity
As you can see, sleep affects every system in the body and sleep has many health benefits. The first step is to ensure you are allowing yourself time to get adequate, restorative sleep. You’ll also want to make sure you do not have any sleep disordered breathing such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition that when left untreated can be life threatening. When sleep apnea occurs, there are pauses in breathing leading to poor oxygenation. Signs and symptoms that may indicate sleep apnea include: snoring, elevated body mass index or neck circumference, waking up coughing, choking, or gasping throughout the night, headaches in the morning, and waking up not feeling rested despite adequate duration of sleep. A formal sleep study is used to diagnose sleep apnea.
Next week we will discuss sleep hygiene techniques to get better sleep, feel more rested and enhance health! In the meantime, one of my favorite books on sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD is “Why we sleep,” check it out!!
If you are looking for someone to work with to help optimize your sleep and your health, book a free 15 minute discovery call here to speak with me!