I have not covered sleep yet, but that does not make it unimportant. In fact sleep may be more important than you think.
1. Sleep is when the body heals and repairs. This is because the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, which is the part that controls breathing, heart rate, digestion etc. You can think of it as the ‘breaks’. It slows things down and relaxes. Different hormones are secreted at night to help your body replace damaged cells, and rebuild. 4
On the other hand, the Sympathetic nervous system is the accelerator. It is what kicks in when we are running from a bear, or stressed out in your job, or getting ready to fight the bully down the street. Here, the priority is the muscles, respiration, and heart. Digestion and healing take a back seat because they are not going to get you away from that bear or help you fight the bully!
2. Sleep plays a role in memory and learning. Studies show that a sleep deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and cannot learn as well. That is because sleep has a major role in the consolidation of memory which is imperative for learning new information. 1
3. Optimal amounts of sleep help you live longer and have a higher quality of life because you have less stress, avoid accidents, have more energy and stamina, and stave off depression. 2
4. People who get at least 6 hours of sleep have less inflammation, lower CRP levels, (an indication of inflammation). Inflammation is strongly linked to heart disease, arthritis, stroke, diabetes and premature aging.
5. Good sleep can increase creativity. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.
6. Studies show that sleep deprived dieters loose less weight because when you are sleepy, certain hormones increase that are associated with appetite. Studies show lack of sleep leads to insatiable junk food cravings!
Prescription drugs and alcohol actually keep you from going into the deeper levels of sleep which is essential, and studies also show that adolescents who get less than 7 hours sleep are more prone to drug use than those who get 8 to 10 hours. 3
So what can you do to get a better night sleep? Briefly; stay decaffeinated and alcohol free after 3 PM, keep your bedroom calm, cool, quiet, dark, and uncluttered. Eat a protein snack, and take warm shower or bath before bed. No cell phones, iPods, computers or homework in the bedroom!
If you want a detailed list of how to get a better night’s sleep check out this site: http://www.drpepi.com/health-tips/c/sleep-and-bedrooms
Jill Coleman RN/Holistic Nutrition Practitioner
3. Mednick SC, Christakis NA, Fowler JH (2010) The Spread of Sleep Loss Influences Drug Use in Adolescent Social Networks. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009775
4. REST AND SLEEP ESSENTIAL FOR HEALTH by Lawrence Wilson, MD © January 2012, The Center for Development
5. www.Naturalnews.com – sleep and junk food cravings.