Why do we need to sleep?
For an increasing number of adults sleep is something of a mystery. You’ll often hear people saying “I need 8 hours of sleep to function” or “I just don’t sleep” to “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.
We don’t pay for sleep, we don’t have to do anything while we sleep and sometimes it can be a nuisance, crashing the party just as its about to get interesting right?
But sleep could not be more important! Sleep is the glue that holds us together, that allows our hormones, our bodies, our minds to function optimally.
By cutting back on a good nights sleep you’re essentially accumulating a dept that you simply cannot pay back.
Before the invention of the electroencephologram (EEG) scientists thought that sleep was a passive state, where the brain, and body simply shut down and went to sleep itself. Since the EEG they have found that the brain goes through patterns of sleep that are anything but asleep.
Ok, so why do we need to sleep I hear you ask? Well in very basic terms we need it to main health, healthy hormone levels and proper function of not just the brain but the body as a whole – after all we are not dolphins! (As a side note dolphins are unihemispheric – they can shut down one hemisphere of their brains and keep the other open and wake for predators, to keep them breathing and maintain muscle movement).
I’ve heard some women describe insomnia as being in a toxic relationship with an emotionally unavailable man – it just sucks the life out of you, and thats what not sleeping effectively will do to you – suck the life right out of you.
If you’re not sleeping well, it can be as a result of your environment, habitual behaviour or the need to try to pack as much into your day as possible and the only thing you have to “give up” is the time spent on sleep.
Sleep can often be worn as a badge of honour among entrepreneurs “I was up all night working on my presentation” “I haven’t slept since Tuesday because I’m building a new company” – to a resounding “wow, your on fire!” or “great job” from their peers.
To go to bed at 9pm or to nap is often considered a weakness, something to hide, to not brag about, maybe it makes you feel old so you don’t tell anyone.
Here is my take on it. If you’re in bed by 9pm I say “that’s amazing, awesome” because that usually means you’re up early getting s**t done am I right? If you’re up at 5 or 6 am you are up before “most” people. You understand the drive to start your day on the right foot with you in control, not the day controlling you! You’ve likely had a great nights sleep with beautiful REM and NREM sleep to feel refreshed and ready to take on the world.
And best of all YOUR HORMONES WILL THANK YOU FOR IT! (in particular Leptin and Ghrelin which control our appetite). If you’re up and about as the sun comes up, take advantage of that beautiful sun to pack on your stores of melatonin and raise that cortisol to get the most out of your day and help you sleep better at night.
Let me leave you with this for now: “animals subjected to total sleep deprivation for prolonged periods of time increase their food intake markedly. Recent studies in humans have shown that the levels of hormones that regulate appetite are profoundly influenced by sleep duration. Sleep loss is associated with an increase in appetite that is excessive in relation to the caloric demands of extended wakefulness” “Thus, leptin levels were signaling a state of famine in the midst of plenty.”
If you are a women in pre-peri or menopause who suffers from sleep deprivation and have experienced weight gain, its time to reinvest and start making substantial deposits into your sleep bank.
What do you consider a good nights sleep? Let me know in a comment below.