We’ve heard the expression our whole lives, and have often joked about it. The truth is sleep is necessary for anti-aging and beauty benefits in general, as well as health and hormonal balance. I’ve never understood the expression: “I’ll sleep when I die” because lack of sleep will contribute to the deterioration of your body and immune system…and could very well contribute to an early grave!
I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get quality sleep, or get less sleep than I’m used to for more than one night, I just don’t feel right. I’m more bloated, the lines on my face seem more pronounced, my skin looks dull, not to mention crankiness, heightened emotional sensitivity and fogginess. It can even heighten depression!
You may be thinking “well, that’s why there’s a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner! Just drink caffeine!” True, caffeine will give you a jolt, but more than one cup a day may actually be harming you. Due to the ongoing stress in our everyday lives (kids, meetings, deadlines, family, money, etc.) your adrenal glands are working overtime. The adrenals sit on top of our kidneys and they’re in charge of monitoring the body’s stress response through the release of cortisol and adrenaline in the ‘fight or flight’ response. Both of these hormones are essential when in balance in order to have a healthy stress response and fight infection.
What has happened is our sense of actual perceived danger versus our day to day stresses have become blurred. O
In response to the stress, we secrete cortisol and adrenaline. The problem with this is that eventually it will deplete our adrenals, and there will come a point where they can no longer supply the body with the healthy levels of cortisol needed, making you chronically fatigued and more susceptible to illness.
Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue are (and these are just a few):
- Feeling tired in the evening but resisting going to bed
- Brain fog and difficulty remembering things
- Craving salty or sugary foods to keep your energy up
- Unexplained hair loss
- Gaining weight easily and having difficulty losing it, especially in the waist
- Frequently getting the flu and having a hard time getting better.
Fueling this fire with caffeine only exacerbates the adrenal depletion by giving you a jolt of energy and adrenaline, which, as you guessed it- drains our adrenals even further.
Our body also repairs during our sleep, building the immune system and “resetting” hormones, which are essential in staying physically young and slim. It also keeps us balanced emotionally and health-wise. The body needs eight to nine hours of sleep during which time cortisol levels and blood sugar begin to drop and regulate after the sixth hour of sleep. Receiving six hours or less of sleep not only deprives you of rest, but it can actually make you gain weight by storing elevated levels of cortisol and sugar.
It’s also very important for there to be complete darkness in order for your pituitary gland to signal that the restoration can begin. The pituitary glad is responsible for creating balance between nine different hormones. Think of this gland as the conductor of an orchestra and the hormones in the body as being instruments. Without a conductor, all instruments just make noise. It takes the coordination of the conductor to create harmony between all the instrument sounds in order to create a beautiful symphony. Such is the case with your pituitary gland.
In fact, if you sleep with a light or TV on and find that you’re always tired, this may be part of the problem. As you can see, sleep is essential for your immune system, so if you’re ill or feel like you’re getting sick, sleep could be part of your remedy.
So what happens if you’re in a situation that doesn’t allow you to get as much rest as you want on a daily basis? Well, get it when you can. Make sure there is at least one, if not two days a week where your body can replenish. It will make a world of difference. Think of it as a supplement to your workout and a preventive measure for your well-being. It’s not about being lazy. It’s about being responsible and proactive about your health. And you need to be healthy and strong to be able to provide for your loved ones.
The body is a wise mechanism, and when we treat it right, it will do wonders in return. We are sure to charge our pricey gadgets, and we willingly invest money and time in maintaining our cars. However, somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten to do this for ourselves, where the repair is free and the investment is priceless. Free facelift anyone?
(This article is purely informative and is not intended to diagnose any illness or substitiute any medical advice. Any health concern should be directed to your physician.)