In today’s episode of Fit and Fabulous, we’re talking all things sleep. The health and productivity benefits of a good nights sleep. Plus how to make sure we do get enough (so that we can feel fit and fabulous.)
We all know that sleep is good for us. Who hasn’t been on the wrong end of someone who hasn’t slept well? I’m like an angry bear who’s slept in an ant’s nest when I don’t get enough. In recent years scientists have discovered what goes on in our brains and bodies whilst we sleep. What they have discovered is fascinated. Dr Zarrin Shaikh, is here to tell us all about sleep.
The “circadian rhythm” is the 24 hour rhythm that our bodies follow. Our brain generates this rhythm.
Whilst we’re busy snuggled in our beds, our bodies are doing vital maintenance and repairs. We repair all our organs whilst we’re asleep. Which explains why lack of sleep is associated with a large number of illnesses.
You may think that your brain isn’t doing much when you’re asleep. But that’s not true. You’re brain is very active during sleep.
Sleep is vital for memory processing. It helps us consolidate experiences and helps us perform motor tasks.
Each night, We cycle through different sleep stages. Different things happen during stages.
NREM “non rapid eye movement sleep” has 4 stages. Stage 2 is important as it helps with memory consolidation. Stages 3 and 4 are associated with fixing your body and storing your memories.
REM “rapid eye movement” is when we dream. Our bodies are paralysed so that we don’t act out our dreams. (You don’t want to get up and start walking out of windows.) Dreaming and REM sleep is associated with creativity.
We cycle through NREM and REM in a “sleep cycle” of 90 minutes. Throughout the night the amount of NREM gets less and REM gets more.
Getting up early and missing out on REM sleep makes us less creative. (So perhaps the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm?)
It’s normal to wake up during the night. Ideally you want to roll over and go back to sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a huge problem in our modern world. We’re so busy doing stuff that we consider more important than sleep.
When we don’t sleep for long enough, we don’t give our body time to fix itself. Or to store and process memories.
Our sympathetic nervous system is turned on, meaning that we’re stressed more.
This promotes inflammation which can lead to disease.
When you’re sleep deprived your insulin hormone level doesn’t work as well, so you don’t metabolise glucose as well.
Your hunger hormone “ghrelin” is activated meaning you’re more hungry.
Leptin which a hormone that tells you you’re full doesn’t work as well when you’re tired.
When you’re sleep deprived you crave sugar and all the bad stuff!
This leads to putting on weight, diabetes, heart disease.
We have a waste system called “glimphatics” in your brain. When we don’t get enough sleep, the glimphatics can’t wash away beta amyloid which causes Alzheimer’s.
Do you ever stay up late doing “stuff”? You think you’re being productive but actually you’re better off getting a full night’s sleep! You’ll be more productive in the morning
In “Why We Sleep” By Matthew Walker he says:
“Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. After ten days of just seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as it would be after going without sleep for twenty-four hours.”
A study in 2016 found that US loses $411 billion a year due to sleep deprivation! (Check out the study here.)
When we’re sleep deprived, we have “micro sleeps”. During this time, our brain has no sensory input. If that happens whilst driving, the results can be fatal.
When people drive under the influence of alcohol, their reactions are slower. But they do react after a time.
When people are driving and have a micro sleep, there is no reaction as your brain is asleep.
The consequences of a car accident causes by sleep deprivation are normally worse than those caused by drink driving.
What a long list of bad things that happen when we don’t get enough sleep! Most people don’t think of themselves as chronically sleep deprived. But unless you’re getting 8 hours sleep a night, changes are that you are.
A good sign is if you need a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning. (Please note…I’m all for coffee! And its health benefits. The question is “do you need it to feel awake?” If you can get up and not need coffee immediately, you’re good to go. If you can’t turn on your brain until coffee time, you probably need a few more hours kip.)
Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Dr Zarrin advised 8 hours of “sleep opportunity”.
Caffeine stays in our body a long time. The half time is 5 hours. The more you drink, the longer it takes to get out of your system.
Caffein can stop you getting to sleep and affect the quality of sleep.
It’s better to enjoy your coffee in the morning.
Some people can metabolise caffeine more quickly than others.
If you think you have a sleep disorder, go and see a sleep specialist.
We’ve presented a good case for sleep being good for us! It’s good for our health, our memories, our creativity, our production levels. It will help you to lose weight! Not to mention how much better we feel when we get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is one of the keys to feeling fit and fabulous. I hope you’ll start to prioritise sleep and make sure you get 8 hours a night.
Zarrin is a cardiologist with a phD in sleep. You can find her at lifestylecardiolgy.com.
Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.