Good sleep is the cornerstone of great health. When we get enough sleep, we feel great, energised, and revitalised and that’s because the body goes into rebuilding, repairing, detoxing, processing and regulating mode. Research suggests that sleep is involved in memory processing, learning, immunity, mental relaxation, hormone regulation, and repair of the body.
Studies have shown that 4–6 hours of sleep per night will result in sleep debt. This is because you aren’t obtaining enough restorative sleep and all its benefits. It’s a bit like a debt you owe the bank. It must be paid back at some time or there will be consequences.
We can all relate to not feeling our best when we don’t get enough sleep, but here's what happens when we don’t get enough snooze time.
- Decreased mental health resilience - People with sleep debt have described the following feelings of being unhappy, tired, anxious, sluggish, nervous, difficulty in concentration, inability to make decisions, not feeling alert, not confident, depressed or not being successful at work.
- Decreased physical repair and lowered immunity - How often have you experienced a cold after you’ve had a run of late nights?
- Increased cravings - The reasons for this include there is 40% reduction in rate of glucose clearance, 30% reduction in insulin effectiveness and our appetite hormones getting all screwed up. Have you ever noticed when you're tired you just want to do a bit more munching?
- Decrease thyroid hormone production - This will lower metabolism, make us feel tired and will increase fat mass.
- Increased evening cortisol - Lack of sleep increases cortisol, and increased cortisol prevents you from falling asleep, so this can create a vicious cycle
- Decreased memory, decreased cognitive and decision-making skills - Good luck in those exams after all those all-nighters you spent studying.
- Increased inflammation - We now know that inflammation is the major driver of most chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and mental illness.