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A passionate doctor, mother and health enthusiast, Dr. Machiella teaches those around her to embrace a lifestyle that promotes a sound body, mind and spirit.

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The Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep

November 18, 2018

Getting enough sleep is so important at any age. Think about how great you feel after a solid, deep sleep that leaves you feeling almost euphoric. You wake up feeling rejuvenated and alive and ready to face the day.

When you have the urge to curl up under a blanket and cozy up with your favourite pillow, go ahead and take a snooze, it’s really good for your health. Making sleep an important part of your day and creating a ritual around it is a great way to honour sleep and all its glory. Below you will learn why sleep is good for your health and how to get the best, most rejuvenating effects from it.

The Physiology of Poor Sleep
Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. Poor sleep or lack of sleep is linked to type 2 diabetes. In a study of healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of diabetes. The symptoms disappeared after one week of increased sleep.

Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and lack of it. It is estimated that 90% of patients with depression complain about sleep quality. Those with sleeping disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

Go ahead and Count those Sheep
Quality shut-eye is the best medicine available. It leads to more energy, helps you handle stress and improves overall well-being. Your body systems benefit when you get the seven to eight hours of sleep that experts recommend. Sleep is your body’s time to heal, recharge and restore itself. When you skimp on sleep and end up in ‘sleep debt’ it affects every body function, from your memory to your mood to the number of sick days you take and even your risk for a heart attack. Not enough sleep is linked to heart health problems, from high blood pressure to heart attacks because regularly shortchanging yourself on sleep can lead to a surge in stress hormones such as cortisol. The increase in this hormone encourages your ticker to respond by working harder, and then it doesn’t get the rest it needs.

Sleep prevents you from Packing on the pounds and Boosts your immune system
A good night’s rest won’t necessarily result in weight loss, but it can keep you from adding unwanted pounds. Sleeplessness cranks up production of Ghrelin, the hormone which boosts appetite, and leads to a decrease in the hormone leptin, which signals feeling full. Lack of sleep makes your more prone to stress and gives you low energy and therefore reduces your ability to fight junk food cravings. So, go ahead and sleep your way to balanced hunger and satiety hormones.

Immune Health is another reason why we should catch enough z’s. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which are needed to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease productionof these very important cytokines you don’t get enough sleep.

Find your sleep ritual
It’s obvious that sleeping is good for our health. Ensuring that those recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep are meaningful and consistent is all about getting into a “sleep routine”. Try these tips and wake up feeling like you can conquer the world.

  1. Get into bed at the same time every night. Do this by choosing a time that you know you can be consistent with.
  2. Wear comfortable loose clothing so that you aren’t cold or too hot.
  3. Do some light stretching half hour before bed to loosen tight muscles and prevent cramping through the night.
  4. Take Magnesium before going to bed. The benefits of Magnesium are endless and one of them is that it helps promote a deep and rejuvenating sleep.
  5. Try not to nap during the day since this will only disrupt the time you have designated to go to sleep.

Good, wholesome sleep makes you feel alive and keeps you healthy. Making sleep a priority and finding your ‘sleep ritual’ is key to being happy and productive. Catch those z’s, count sheep and hit the snooze button once or twice and feel great.

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