Late night Netflix binge watching, opening that computer back up to answer emails, getting a little me time after a day of conquering the kids and house chaos — there are many reasons we all choose to not get the sleep our bodies need. While the reasons are varied, the consequences are many and universal. Remember, your body has a design — a way in which it operates optimally, and sleep is a huge part of that design.
A recent GQ article, “7 Horrible Things that Sleep Deprivation Does to Your Body” (http://www.gq.com/story/effects-of-sleep-deprivation) outlines some of these consequences. Sure, there is the serious stuff — sharp increases in risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and you know, death — but then there are the things that you start to notice:
When we are sleeping our bodies go in to maintenance mode. There are proteins to produce for our hair and skin. There are hormones to produce — studies have shown in healthy young men there is a sharp decline in testosterone levels in just one week of decreasing sleep from 8h/night to 5h/night. This affects libido, mood, muscle building.
Additionally, decreased sleep increases cortisol — your stress hormone — affecting your mood, your concentration, your digestive system, your blood pressure, etc. Decreased sleep also increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, while decreasing the satiety hormone, leptin — midnight snack anyone?
So, how do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Start with — do you feel rested when you wake up in the morning? If the answer is no, then start by tracking you typical amount of sleep, aim to then be consistent and once consistent add sleep in 30min segments one week at a time until you start waking rested. Issues falling asleep, staying asleep or with sleep quality (snorers I’m looking at you) are good conversations to have with your Doctor.
Your body has a design and sleep plays a foundational role — perhaps it is time to pay attention.