Why sleep is important for you and what happens if you don’t get enough!

60% of UK adults suffer sleep issues 3 – 4 nights every week. Is that you?

Do you struggle to fall asleep or are you waking up frequently throughout the night?

Until 1953 it was thought that sleep was just the brain shutting down. Sleep is now known to be an essential rejuvenating and replenishing process that the body has to go through to stay healthy and strong.

There’s a lot of stuff going on whilst you’re asleep. There are five stages to your sleep cycle:

  • Stage 1 – you’re drifting off, your eyes move slowly, your muscles may contract suddenly and you get that sensation of falling.
  • Stage 2 – going a bit deeper, your eye movement stops, and your brainwaves start to slow.
  • Stage 3 – very slow brain waves known as delta with occasional fast ones.
  • Stage 4 – exclusively slow delta waves, it’s very difficult to wake somebody. Hormone changes occur including the release of human growth hormone which is very important for muscle repair and fat burning.
  • Stage 5 – just before you wake up, REM (rapid eye movement – not the band!), your subconscious it at its most active so dreams occur, it’s hard to regulate temperature so night sweats can occur here.

You go through an average of 3-5 cycles per night with each sleep cycle lasting around 90 – 110 minutes and your brain undergoes most change during REM.

The relationships between cortisol, insulin and melatonin is key for a good nights sleep and when your sleep is of good quality what happens is:

  1. your body repairs and rejuvenates
  2. your immune system is in overdrive cleaning up any mess from the day before
  3. any antioxidants consumed during the day repair free radical damage reducing the aging process
  4. your hormones rebalance and your nervous system is refreshed

In reality that rarely happens and if your sleep is very disturbed and you regularly don’t make it to stage 4 and stage 5 the consequences include: hormone imbalance, weight gain, worsening signs of menopause, weakened immunity, loss of self esteem, mood swings, 5 years off your life expectancy

We tend to assume that the older we get the less sleep we need. The reality is that the older you get the more you need because your body needs more time to rejuvenate and replenish.

Modern day sleep issues can be quite easily resolved by bringing cortisol back into alignment and you’ll find out more about that in my next post.