Why is it that every time the flu season comes around, no matter how much you avoid sneezing, sniffling, and wheezing people, you still end up spending days in bed coughing your lungs out? Believe it or not, it could have a lot to with how well you sleep at night.
Everyone knows a good night’s rest is great for your health. But thanks to advances in medical science, we are only just beginning to realize how great for our health sleep really is.
Read on below and I’ll get into a little bit more detail as to why sleep is the best weapon in your fight against sickness.
Sleep versus viruses
The human body is a truly wonderful thing. While we lie in bed at night dreaming, our bodies are hard at work repairing themselves from the daily stresses and strains.
This process of renewal and replenishment is far more successful if we give our body the time and space needed to get on with the job. If we cut our sleep short or suffer from broken sleep, these processes are disrupted and don’t function nearly as well.
One vitally important process that takes place while we sleep relates to our immune system and the production of cytokines and T-cells. These are the helpful little chaps who patrol our blood, ready to battle foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. In a nutshell, they are the cornerstone of our immune system.
If we’re sleep-deprived, our immune system is impaired, leaving us less able to fight off these infections. What’s more, should we get sick, having a weak immune system means the illness will hit us harder. It will take us more time to recover — and that’s definitely NOT fun.
If getting enough sleep is proving to be a problem for you, don’t despair, head on over to the Sleepadvisor and find out what the experts can do to help.
Sleep versus heart disease
Getting better sleep improve can also play a role in preventing other more long term ailments, many of which involve the cardiovascular system. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attacks.
When it comes to the positive impact sleep has on heart health, the exact reasons why aren’t exactly clear to medical science. One hypothesis relates to the simple matter of wear and tear. When we are asleep our heart has less work to do. We are horizontal so it is considerably easier for the little pump to push blood around our extremities without any gravity making things tricky. The longer we sleep, the longer out heart gets a time-out, so to speak.
If we don’t get sufficient sleep, our hardworking heart doesn’t get the break it deserves. What this can ultimately mean is that two people of the same age and similar physique, may actually have hearts that have done considerably different amounts of exercise. This is all due to a difference in combined lifetime sleep duration.
So, if you want to keep your heart healthy it pays to have a healthy attitude toward sleep.
Sleep versus weight gain and diabetes
How can lying in bed longer help me lose weight? First, when we are better-rested, our willpower is more formidable. We are far better equipped to avoid sweets and other tempting treats. We also tend to crave healthier, less calorific food when we aren’t hunting for a much needed energy boost. Our body actually processes food differently when it’s tired. Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that a phenomenon known as ‘metabolic grogginess’ impacts our fat cells when we don’t get enough rest.
Without getting lost in medical jargon, what the study found is that our fat cells struggle to respond to the hormone insulin correctly when tired. The result of this is that the fat in the food we eat do not get processed correctly, leading to weight gain.
Obviously with extra weight comes a host of new health conditions and new sleeping problems like sleep apnea. What’s more, metabolic grogginess can also lead to fat being stored in places we don’t want it to be, such as in the tissue of the liver — the consequence of that being type 2 diabetes.
Well, there you have it, all the excuses you need to stay in bed a few hours longer tomorrow morning. Sleep is a powerful thing and best of all it’s completely and utterly free. Sleepedia says, do your health a favour, head on to bed an hour earlier tonight!
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