Losing Sleep Over Sleep Loss?
Tossing and turning? Watching the hours crawl by? Even one night of poor sleep can make you an exhausted, irritable, sugar-craving beast the next day. We all have the odd sleepless night, but if sleep loss goes on long enough more serious problems like hormone imbalance, immune dysfunction and weight gain can result.
Let’s look at the latest research to see what’s going on when you’re asleep, the relationship between sleep loss and other health conditions, and how you can increase your dose of healing ZZZs.
Why Your Body Needs to Sleep
Imagine a city at night. Offices are being cleaned, roadways and transit lines are being repaired, garbage and recycling is being picked up…
If these activities took place during the day, they would get in the way. Office workers couldn’t work effectively, traffic would become gridlocked. When morning comes, the city has been cleaned and repaired, and is ready for another full day of operations.
It’s the same with your body. It’s vital to your daytime functioning that your body has a chance to perform these functions every night:
- Repair damage to muscles, organs and DNA
- Hormone production and release
- Process toxins for removal
- Process the day’s events emotionally
- Store long-term emotional and immune memories
The Physical Toll of Not Sleeping Well
What happens if these functions aren’t carried out properly and regularly? Cellular repairs fall behind, hormones fall out of balance, toxins build up, emotions aren’t processed, and long-term immune memories aren’t stored for the future.
A Vicious Cycle: Sleep Loss Worsens Existing Health Conditions
We’ve all experienced the 2-way relationship between poor sleep and stress. Up all night stressing about a work project? The next day you’ll feel even more stressed about it, leading you into a cycle of stress and poor sleep. And the negative effects go deeper if you already suffer from an imbalance in your health.
Sleep Loss Affects Immune Health
Sleep loss can impact your immune system’s lines of defence, the various stages of immune response that are designed to protect the body from infection and disease.
Research points to sleep loss having the strongest impact on targeted antibody resistance. The immune system’s learning and remembering only happen while you sleep. If you’re not getting good quality sleep on a regular basis, your immune system won’t be able to produce the antibodies. This means you could be more susceptible if that pathogen visits you again in the future. Several studies show that sleep loss increases the risk of an infection taking hold.
Sleep Loss Affects Menopause
Studies show that almost 70% of women in perimenopause and menopause regularly experience sleep loss. Why is that?
Waking up restless and dripping with sweat in the middle of night doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep. And the less sleep you get, the worse the menopause-induced night sweats may get.
Research also shows that the increased anxiety and depression that often accompanies menopause contributes significantly to many aspects of poor sleep including waking up often during the night, less time spent asleep and waking due to troubling dreams.