The importance of quality sleep

Hi, today I will be discussing the importance of quality sleep:

It has almost become the normal mindset of people in the Western world, to think that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is acceptable and normal in the busyness of life.  What a lot of people may not realise is that their lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is affecting them on many levels, especially if it is ongoing.  Lack of sleep has been linked with a lot of chronic disorders.

We need quality sleep to restore our bodies and regenerate our cells, which in turn affects the way our organs and body systems function on a daily basis.  When we sleep and sleep deeply this allows our organs like the liver to do its work without having the extra work or toll of digesting and eliminating.

A circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle often referred to as the body clock.  It is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, wake and eat.  One example is the sleep-wake cycle.  This internal clock is affected by environmental cues like sunlight and temperature.

The pineal gland regulates circadian rhythms through the production of melatonin.  These rhythms together with fading sunlight allow melatonin to rise and serotonin must then fall.  When a hormone that makes you feel happy (serotonin) decreases it can create a sinking feeling and you feel like you “want something”, but you may be unsure of what it is.  Carbohydrate rich foods promote serotonin production.

80-90% of serotonin is found in the Gut, it is used to regulate intestinal movements, by stimulating the enteric nervous system (ENS) to initiate secretion and peristalsis.  When this is skewed, constipation or diarrhoea can occur.  Gut health can affect your sleep through the production of serotonin and the messages getting to the brain.  Gut bacteria have a significant influence on the connection between the brain and the gut.  When the gut is full of a healthy, diverse range of beneficial bacteria known as your microbiome, then it has the potential to regulate mood and positive feelings.

Melatonin is a water-soluble hormone, derived from serotonin and produced by the pineal gland.  Melatonin is important for transmitting information that synchronises the 24-hour circadian rhythm.  It is released in high quantities when a person is away from light (like night time).  Blue light from electronics, LED and fluorescent lights, tv’s, computers, laptops, digital screens and smart phones interferes with the production of melatonin.  Melatonin promotes sleep and the regulation of circadian rhythms.

Melatonin works antagonistically with serotonin, one goes up while the other comes down.  It is destroyed by morning sunlight on waking, this is optimal, as then serotonin can rise.

Sleep needs to be a priority, a lot of us compromise sleep to get more done.  Ultimately by doing this we are not serving ourselves and instead are setting ourselves up for a state of dis ease.  We are the health of our cells and cellular repair happens when we sleep deeply and wake feeling rejuvenated.

Optimally adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per day.  Restorative sleep improves our mood and allows digestion to happen as we are more likely to be in a state of Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) dominance which is rest and digest.  It helps our skin regenerate and look healthy and full of vitality.  Restorative sleep is needed for optimal thyroid function and sex hormone balance, it also improves our memory and cognition, supports our immune function, helps in the prevention of disease and assists with maintaining a healthy weight.

If we listen to our bodies and become more in tune or aware of them and give them what they need, ultimately they can heal themselves.  The body has an innate healing ability.

Sleep concerns are not only about what happens prior to bedtime, they are mostly about what is happening in your day.  If stress is heightened, then cortisol rises and you are living in a place of constant resistance.  To have circadian rhythms working effectively, cortisol is ideally lowering in the evening and high first thing of a morning.

If you would like more information and sleep tips please contact me for a consult.



Leigh x

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