Sleep is linked to immunity, mood and weight management
There are many reasons why we do not get enough sleep, including difficulty falling asleep, interrupted sleep due to hormonal imbalances or stress, or quite simply not managing to schedule enough hours sleep. “Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being” according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and adequate sleep is linked to improved immunity, enhanced mental well-being, as well as weight management.
As we sleep our immune system works to heal and repair the body, in particular by releasing growth hormones for muscle and tissue repair. Ensuring adequate sound restful sleep is essential for restoring, repairing and healing. In fact if we are putting our bodies under significant stress through a heavy workload or intense physical exercise, even more sleep may be needed for our bodies to recover.
Getting sufficient quality sleep is also essential for our mental well-being and without adequate sleep, memory, cognitive function and mental performance have all been shown to decline. Do you recognise that feeling of ”brain fog”, the feeling of only getting through the day on coffee or sugary snacks when you have not had enough sleep or not slept well? Furthermore, when people with anxiety and depression were surveyed, results showed that most of them slept for less than six hours a night - it is important to make sure we get enough sleep as it may enhance mood regulation and well-being.
Sleeping less has also been linked to putting on weight and studies have shown that people who slept for less than seven hours a night had a higher risk of becoming obese. People who are sleep deprived have been shown to have higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger stimulating hormone and reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that promotes feelings of fullness. This may be a key reason why people who sleep less, tend to gain more weight.
So, just how much sleep should we be getting? Most research studies show that for adults, a minimum amount of seven to seven and a half hours is required to maintain optimum performance and that even after a few days of inadequate sleep, our bodies are not performing optimally.
Working with a nutritional therapist to identify dietary and lifestyle changes can help to restore stress levels, hormonal imbalances (or other factors) which are affecting your sleep. They may help improve your immunity, mental and physical performance, as well as help with weight-loss.
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