Why is sleep so important for your health and what happens while you’re sleeping that affects your health? Let’s talk about it.
You know that when you miss sleep you’re more likely to get sick and you definitely don’t feel your best. But what’s actually happening in your body while you’re sleeping? How is sleep affecting your brain health, your body’s health, your immunity?
While sleep allows your brain and body to slow down, sleep also allows it to engage in processes that do not happen during the day.
A lot of these biological processes have to do with recovery and repair. Getting enough sleep over time can help with maintaining a healthy weight, protecting your cardiovascular system, balancing blood sugar, keeping your immune system healthy and improving cognitive function.
While you’re asleep, your brain is in a less active mode. Your brain is consolidating all the information that you collected during the day and storing it into memories while you’re sleeping. It’s your hypothalamus that’s doing the work of cleaning house.
During sleep, your hypothalamus is orchestrating nocturnal hormones. Human growth hormone is released to repair tissue damage from day to day wear and tear as well as any other damage that might have occurred. Your hypothalamus produces vasopressin, also known as antidiuretic hormone, so you’re not making excessive amounts of urine during the night so you can sleep all night long. Your hypothalamus is also the controller of your autonomic nervous system.
During sleep, your hypothalamus directs your sympathetic nervous system to chill out and your parasympathetic nervous system turns on to keep everything in a calm state.
During sleep your blood pressure lowers, your blood sugar stabilizes with lower insulin levels. Your cortisol lowers at night if you’re making enough melatonin.
During sleep your hypothalamus is orchestrating your immune system which is probably it’s most important nocturnal job. Your hypothalamus triggers your pituitary to release prolactin which puts you into an even deeper sleep and tells your thymus to program white blood cells. T cells including natural killer cells scout out invaders like fungus, viruses, bacteria, as well as inflammation and mutant cells which may become cancerous.
Your immune system protects you at night. If you don’t sleep deeply and for long enough you don’t get that protection.
Without deep sleep, it is difficult to maintain a healthy functioning brain. Your hypothalamus controls your moods and memory and needs sleep to maintain healthy moods and effective memory. Physical tissue repair doesn’t happen and your hormones can become imbalanced without adequate sleep.
Decades of research has shown that trying to get away with too little sleep is a barrier to longevity. Sweet dreams.
If you have any questions about how sleep affects your health, please join me in my Hormone Support Group. You can access it by signing up for my free Hormone Reboot Training.
Sleep: A Health Imperative; Faith S. Luyster, PhD, et al; Sleep, Volume 35, Issue 6, 1 June 2012, Pages 727–734