Why Good Sleep helps!

Why good sleep is so important

Good sleep is greatly helped by exercise and exercise is helped by a good diet. So the three work together with our hormones.

Aerobic exercise as well a strength training can improve sleep quality. It can also reduce the risk of sleep problems like insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

Sleep is a time when our bodies and brain restore and repair themselves and it affects nearly every tissue in the body. Most adults need between 7 – 9 hours of good sleep nightly.

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of health conditions like diabetes 2, heart disease and stroke. Extended deprivation affects concentration and your cognitive function. Sleep deprivation can also lead people to eat more high-calorie foods. It is also linked to increased waist circumference and obesity.

Sleep is determined by our circadian rhythm which is about our sensitivity to daylight. Any disruption to our circadian rhythm can affect our ability to lose weight effectively and this can be why shift workers, for example can struggle to lose weight.

When your body is sleep deprived it upsets the balance between your hunger hormone ghrelin and your satiety hormone leptin. The hunger hormone can activate while the leptin hormone can cause sugar cravings. (See the topic About Your Hormones).

A third and really important hormone comes into play when we sleep and it’s called melatonin.

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm. When we sense it is getting dark outside melatonin production increases and makes us feel tired. This is one reason why ‘blue light’ screens should be avoided late at night – they mess with our circadian rhythm causing poor sleep which can result in feeling tired and lethargic the next day.

The human body produces melatonin mainly between the hours of 10pm to 2am. This hormone drives normal body functions including the reproduction system. It also contains anti-oxidants which stimulate our white blood cells and help prevent cancer.

Melatonin is also believed to stimulate fat burning and hence aid weight loss by increasing the metabolism.

How to get good sleep

Here are some suggestions for quality sleep:

  • Avoid bright lights late at night
  • Don’t eat too late – give you body time to digest food properly and eat earlier in the evening.
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime – some say don’t drink coffee after midday.
  • Exercise regularly – but allow your body to relax properly before bed.
  • Seek daylight – try to exercise outdoors to help align your circadian rhythm.

NOTE:  in the slide below HGH means Human Growth Hormone

Why sleep is important