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Why you need to get enough sleep

Sleep is when your body repairs and rejuvenates itself, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t complete all the phases needed for muscle repair from physical activity, consolidate memories for easy recall, and release hormones that regulate growth and appetite.

All this leaves you waking up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in school and social activities.

It also makes you more likely to injure yourself while engaging in physical activities, both because your focus is off, and your body is tired and worn. You’re also likely to be irritable, less capable of effectively managing your stress (which only serves to compound your stress), and lacking in sex drive.

Lack of sleep also makes you more likely to crave unhealthy foods at the same time that it reduces your body’s ability to metabolize that junk energy without it going to fat. A study at the University of Berkley a few years ago found that a sleep-deprived brain finds it harder to control the impulse to eat high-carb, high-fat foods than a rested one. Other studies have found that people who get less than six hours of sleep per day are 30 per cent more likely to become obese. And weight gain of course puts you at risk of other health issues, like Type 2 Diabetes.

Why does this happen? Because the hormones that regulate when we feel hungry and when we feel satiated become unbalanced. This is likely thanks to adenosine, a naturally occurring compound in our bodies. Adenosine disrupts neural function and promotes sleepiness as it accumulates in the brain. Without enough rest, adenosine builds up and can start to degrade neural function.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Here’s an easy test. If you regularly need an alarm clock to drag you awake each morning, odds are, you are not.

If you are getting the rest you need and following a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up, your body finds its own natural rhythm and becomes its own alarm clock.

How much sleep you need depends on the individual. Generally, seven to nine hours.

The trick, of course, is that it must be quality sleep. If you are wakeful through the night because of a snoring partner or an overactive bladder, it will erode the quality of your sleep, no matter how many hours you spend in bed.

That’s because your body doesn’t settle long enough into uninterrupted rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. This is the deep phase of sleep your body must settle into for optimal rest and rejuvenation.

Sleep apnea

And if you regularly still feel groggy after what seems to be good night’s sleep, there may be another issue at play. As many as one in five people suffer from sleep apnea, which can seriously disrupt your sleep.

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep due to a collapse of the upper airway. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Normal breathing often starts again with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea is often treated with devices worn while sleeping such as nasal dilator or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This being said, obesity is also a contributing factor, so losing weight can help. Furthermore, a loss of the normal cervical lordosis in your spine (the “C” shape your neck is suppose to have) may also cause a decreased upper airway. Structural correction of the spine with Chiropractic care may be the solution you are looking for.

How can I get a good night’s sleep?

Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual away from bright lights. Avoid activities that can cause excitement, stress, or anxiety.
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
  4. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than none.
  5. Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius, free from any disturbing noise, and free from any light. Consider blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, and anything that can produce “white noise” to help you relax, such as a humidifier or fan.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable and supportive mattress, and pillows. Even good quality mattresses need to be replaced after nine or 10 years. See our previous video about choosing the right pillow.

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