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Self-Care Essentials: The Importance of Sleep

There are so many ways to practice self-care.  One of the most basic and most important is getting a good nights rest.  Chronic sleep deficiency can have a significant impact on both our mental and physical well being.  Here are five reasons why sleep is so important for your health:

1.  Good sleep helps maintain a healthy, balanced appetite.  Sufficient sleep helps our bodies regulate hormones properly, providing a healthy balance of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, and leptin, an appetite suppressant [1].  Without enough sleep, the production of these hormones can become unbalanced, causing increased appetite and potential weight gain.

2.  Lack of sleep can reduce productivity.  Poor sleep can alter activity in certain parts of the brain resulting in poor decision-making and problem-solving while reducing your ability to learn.  Lack of sleep can have the same effect as alcohol intoxication causing individuals to take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes [1].

3.  Poor sleep can have a negative impact on mental and emotional well-being.  Apart from just being a bit grumpier when we haven't had enough rest, there is a strong correlation between chronic lack of sleep and depression.  The same correlation exists between insufficient sleep and an increased risk of suicide [2].   

4.  Sufficient sleep can help prevent or reduce inflammation within your body.  Patients with chronic illnesses such as IBD, Chrons, and Ulcerative Colitis have reported a strong correlation between poor sleep and disease activity and relapses [3].  Inflammation also plays a role in a wide variety of chronic and auto-immune diseases.

5. Lack of sleep elevates our risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.  Studies have shown that those who get less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night are at higher risk of heart disease or stroke[4].  Likewise, a survey of  10 studies showed that individuals who get less than six hours of sleep per night are more likely to develop type two diabetes [5].

Our always-on, non-stop culture makes it easy for us to dismiss the importance of a good nights rest.  Whether you are raising an active family, striving for career achievement, or just trying to get through the day; consistently getting a good nights rest is critical to your success. In our next installment of Self-Care Essentials, we will offer some tips for getting a good night's rest.

Sleep Well,

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