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The benefits of a good night’s sleep

‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ It’s a famous saying, the title of a Netflix documentary – and a pillar of ill health. There seems to be a stigma surrounding people who like to get lots of sleep, like going without it is edgy and cool. But the truth is, going without sleep is harmful to your health. Sleep helps our bodies to thrive. It is an opportunity for all of our cells to re-energise, regenerate and grow. Our brain uses this time to process everything that happens during the day and put it into context. A lack of sleep has a detrimental effect on our bodies, far beyond simply being tired.

So, let’s explore the benefits of sleep:

Weight Management

Weight gain is a very common side effect of sleeplessness (or insomnia). During sleep, our bodies regulate hormones. It is a perfect time to reset everything because there is literally nothing to disturb our systems (no food, no stress, no stimulants). The appetite hormones – leptin and ghrelin – are particularly regulated by sleep. Poor sleep leads to a disruption of these hormones, causing us to become hungrier. When we are tired, and our appetite is out of whack, we have irregular eating patterns (which affects metabolism, too) and we are more likely to choose high energy and low nutrient foods.

Not only does a lack of sleep add to weight gain, it also puts you at risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Diseases. Many parts of your body rely on sleep to rejuvenate and when you don’t get enough, your body suffers. So next time you need to stay up late for an assignment or deadline, and then get up at 5am to get to an exercise class, consider your body’s needs. Could you benefit more from sleep at that point?

Mental Capacity

Did you know that the brain creates new cells every day? Even as adults, our brain is working to rebuild itself so that we can improve our cognitive function. When we deprive ourselves of good quality sleep, we disrupt the new cell growth in the hippocampal area of the brain, which is responsible for memory building and emotional responses. This explains why when we are tired we tend to forget things, and also the reason why we over-react to situations and get emotional. We fail to rationalise what is going on and tend to make poor choices. We need sleep to be able to think clearly and function at our peak.

Immune System

It is not only our brain cells that regenerate when we sleep but all of our cells. Our immune system relies heavily on sleep for cell growth and regulating metabolic function. A poor night’s sleep can cause a decrease production of antioxidants and energy. We become more susceptible to catching colds and viruses when we are sleep deprived, and our ability to fight them off once we have them is severely depleted too. So if you want to avoid that workplace cold, get a good night’s sleep.

Gut Microbiome Regulation

Studies have revealed that even two nights of poor sleep can have an immense effect on your gut health. That is the balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines. Having poor gut health results in poor immunity, lethargy and a general feeling of being unwell. It seems to be the latest craze; everyone is showing off how they are indulging in fermented foods, kombucha drinks and eating fibre-rich diets. It’s a pretty great craze to be a part of because gut health is central to your overall physical wellbeing. And sleep is crucial for maintaining that balance, too. So pair your kombucha with a good night’s sleep.

Staying up late and surviving on three hours of sleep probably won’t impress anyone, and it’s certainly not impressing your body. If you really want to take charge of your health, start by investing in quality sleep. Find a routine that allows you to get quality sleep every night. If you need some help, check out Marc’s blog: ‘Hack’s to get a good night’s sleep’, or have a look at the Power5 Sleep in the Power5 Way (download it here).

Until then, be Powerful.

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