We know that sleep deprivation affects concentration and reaction time, but did you also know that your memory is affected, your emotions go haywire, and levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin decrease whilst increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin?
Another of the less-well-known problems associated with lack of sleep is the inhibition of the immune system to perform a plethora of vital clean-up and regenerative functions at night. This nocturnal activity is absolutely necessary for a healthy brain and body in daily life.
When this capacity is limited, the negative side-effects become more pronounced, especially when people are already sick, have hormonal imbalances or are not generally healthy due to lifestyle choices. They will not heal as fast, they’ll feel foggy-headed, and become susceptible to new illnesses and reoccurring relapses. It now becomes much harder for the body to defend against internal foreign invaders and external toxins.
In the lab, seriously sleep-deprived animals actually die, as their immune systems fail to cope and shut down. “If humans endure a total lack of sleep for more than 10 days – they die too” says Professor Dr Jason Ellis, head of the International Sleep Research Facility at Northumberland University.
Chronic lack of sleep has a profound effect on your entire physiological system, from your furthest toe to the centre of your brain. So here are three things you can do from tonight to ensure you get a better night’s sleep:
- Turn all lights off, and devices that emit light. You can sense sources of light through your eyelids, so make your room as close to pitch black as possible. Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for ACTION. Also avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary.
- Often a deficiency of magnesium is related to poor sleeping patterns and irritability, and therefore magnesium supplements can be useful for correcting this. Taurateas Magnesium reduces physical tension, and Taurate calms the chemical responses of the nervous system. 5-HTP (5-HydroxyTryptoPhan) can also be helpful to take at night immediately before bed. Turkey meat contains Tryptophan, which is why it often makes you feel drowsy after eating it. Put about a cup of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) in your bath.
- If sleep disruption is constant, or your energy crashes during the day without reason, have your hormones checked by a specialist anti-ageing doctor.
All set? Right, now go clean your teeth and get to bed..!