Why is it important?
When we have slept well, we appreciate that enormously. There is nothing better – you wake calm, refreshed and ready for the day. A bad nights sleep makes you wake with little or no enthusiasm for the what lies ahead. Not great.
New and continual research into sleep is beginning to reveal that chronic sleep deprivation has important links to your health rather than just your state of readiness.The old joke that the function of sleep is to cure sleepiness, is missing the point. Even though we aren’t exactly sure why we sleep, we know that we have to. If we struggle on trying to stay awake, the body will shut down eventually – how many kids have we seen asleep, heads plonked in plates of food? You’d think eating, gaining enough nutrition and energy would be more important, but perhaps not!
Sleep studies are notoriously difficult to evaluate as it is clear that everybody is different in the amount of sleep needed. Some people find it so difficult to get to sleep regularly, whilst others just need the head to touch the pillow and sleep like a log. Some people do well on 6 hours whilst others seem to need more. How confusing.
Additionally different age groups need different amounts of sleep – newborn babies sleep up to 18 hours a day, irrespective of whether its night or day. After 3 months they begin to recognise the day/night cycle and settle into the circadian rhythm that seems to control the sleep/ wake cycle that we all experience. By the time we reach adulthood it is accepted that most people need between 6 to 8 hours per night to have had “a good nights sleep”
Studies show that 60% of adults claim to have problems sleeping a few nights a week or more.40% of adults experience daytime sleepiness that interferes with their productivity at least a few days each month.
Again it would appear that there are very many reasons (variable over time, matching the impact of everyday life) as to why this is the case. It may affect your ability to work, but chronic sleep deprivation has been linked (not exclusively) to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
This may reflect the lifestyle associated with sleep deprivation but lack of consistent restful sleep would appear to change some hormonal levels. The theory that being in a continuous state of alertness increases stress hormones. This impacts on blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Sleep deprivation also affects the functioning of the linings of the blood vessels and can cause low grade inflammation that again could impact on the heart and overload your inflammatory/immune system.
Also more confusingly, lack of sleep could affect obesity (alongside adding to the risk of diabetes). By not getting good rest the two hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that help keep your appetite in check get thrown out of kilter; encouraging unhealthy snacking, adding to all the other health issues noted above!
Sleep affects mood, productiveness and can have an impact on your physical health. There is nothing new in this concept, but what is being discovered is the subtle links to your wider health and wellbeing if you don’t recognise the importance of a good nights sleep.
Nagging aches and pains aren’t going to go away on their own. Our New Forest Chiropractic clinic is here to get you back on your feet.