If Jeff Bezos sleeps 8 hours, we should too..

We all know we NEED sleep, but what does sleep actually help with other then good brain function & feeling refreshed the next day?

Hormones

Sleep helps keep a healthy balance of hormones in your body. These hormones make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, ghrelin goes up and leptin goes down. Meaning you may feel hungrier when you're actually just sleep deprived. This can impact how much food you eat, and may indirectly impact your body weight. Avoiding sleep deprivation may help to prevent the development of obesity, particularly in children. So, take a second and think about your body. Have you been gaining or losing weight lately? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you constantly feel hungry?

Blood Sugar

My dad has diabetes, ever since I was a little girl he showed my siblings and I how to eat a well balanced, healthy diet. We were never given sugar or candy growing up, and I never really understood how someone with such good eating habits could end up a diabetic? Now, there are many reasons someone could become diabetic so I'm not blaming it on sugar alone. In fact, sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose level. With a sleep deprivation, a normal blood glucose level may be higher, increasing your risk for diabetes.

Immune Health

None of us want the RONA, and getting more sleep actually promotes immunity. An ongoing sleep deficit can change the way your immune system responds. For example, it reduces the ability to fight common infections. Most of us know this one, but we still sacrifice precious sleep hours, for other activities. I'll be the first to admit, after a weekend of partying and little sleep I always feel like I will be sick. In fact, at Coachella a few years ago I had very little sleep for 4 days. When I finally slowed down, my body crashed and I got sick for a few days!

Healthy Growth & Development 

Sleep supports healthy growth and development. With deep sleep, the body triggers the release of the hormone that promotes normal growth in children (PGH, Pituitary growth hormone) and teens. This helps build and repair cells and tissues for people of all ages. Sleep also affects puberty and fertility in women. 

Disease

Since sleep is involved in the healing of the heart and blood vessels, an ongoing sleep deficit is linked to an increased risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and kidney diseases. Here is an article further explaining some of the diseases and the effects no sleep can have on your health. 

Memory

It turns out that sleep is critical for learning and memory, in at least 3 different ways. First, we know that you need sleep before learning to prepare your brain to lay down those new memory tracers. But then you need sleep after learning, to cement those memories into the neural architecture of the brain. You also need sleep after learning to associate, assimilate, and integrate all of that information together. These are the 3 different ways that sleep is critical for your learning and memory functions. 

We need sleep before learning to get our brain ready, almost like a dry sponge ready to initially soak up new information. And without sleep the memory circuits of the brain essentially become waterlogged and you can't absorb new information effectively. 

Example: Recently I started learning the piano, and I can tell you that when I play daily & get enough sleep I can remember songs faster and my fingers even move more quickly. When I go out all night, sleep for 4 hours, then play songs, they are terrible and my fingers don't want to move. 

Now, there's a structure that sits on the left and the right side of the brain, called the Hippocampus. You can think of the Hippocampus almost like the informational inbox for the brain. It's very good at receiving new memory files, and holding onto them. However, sleep deprivation shuts down this memory inbox and any new incoming files get bounced. 

I could go on forever about this topic, but as you can see sleeping is very important. Besides helping to promote & protect your psychical health, good sleep impacts your mental health, psychical safety, productivity, and overall quality of life. So next time you want to pull an all nighter or a few, think of the toll it could take on your body if compounded over time.

 

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) cites these among the connections between sleep & psychical health.