Good Sleep is one of the three most important factors of good health. Along with proper nutrition and exercise, good sleep is essential for anyone’s well-being. There is just no way anyone can expect to be healthy and live the good life that stems from that without good sleep.
We often hear and think about eating well and getting enough exercise. These two alone often present a seemingly insurmountable hurdle to the modern city dweller. We struggle to find the means to achieve at least one of these, or at least a fair compromise. But good sleep? This is just something that most of us can’t even hope to achieve, what with our busy schedules and the crazy expectations that modern day survival imposes upon us. Yet good sleep is just as important as the other two pillars of health. Despite the challenges that modern life throws against our ability to get good sleep, we must put our health first and fight the good fight.
Good Sleep Regulates Weight
Proper nutrition is one of the most important factors that influences health all by itself. But good sleep also bears a meaningful impact on how we eat and how our bodies respond to that.
When we don’t get good sleep - sleeping less or not sleeping well - we tend to gain weight. Yes, sleeping too much can also lead to weight gain, which is why GOOD sleep is the key here. People who get quality sleep - the right amount and the right kind - tend to weigh significantly less than people who don't get adequate sleep.
Motivation and Hormones
Many studies have been conducted through several decades that show the relationship between poor sleep and obesity in children and adults. They all show a consistent increased risk of obesity for those who don’t get good sleep. Children are at higher risk than adults, and women at higher risk than men.
Many factors related to poor sleep lead up to this result, including lack of motivation and hormonal imbalance. People who don’t sleep enough understandably don’t have a lot of energy for additional or increased physical activity, which results in excessive weight gain. Again, we see a connection here between sleep and another of the three vital health factors, exercise. Good sleep helps us both eat well and exercise for good health.
People who don’t get good sleep also tend to suffer from hormone problems. Sleep is an important part of the body’s regenerative cycle - it keeps us going. Without good sleep, our bodies cannot function properly. Our hormones are chemicals that flow
throughout our bodies sending messages to different parts, organizing and regulating a lot of different complex processes. These processes include growth, metabolism, fertility, immunity, and behavior, just to give a few examples. When the hormones’ work is disrupted, a lot of things begin to go wrong. Just one of these is a fouled up metabolism.
On top of all the chaos that poor sleep can cause in our insides, it can also aggravate the situation. Poor sleep attacks us by affecting the way we eat. When we lack sleep, it is commonly believed that our bodies try to make up for it by eating more. This isn’t true because eating more is not what the body needs - food simply can’t make up for good sleep.
Studies conducted on the relationship between sleep deprivation and food intake show that there are both physical and psychological factors that make us eat more when we don’t sleep well. People who don’t get good sleep basically have both bigger appetites and a stronger urge to snack. The compounded result of both is unexpected and often unmanageable weight gain.
Good sleep contributes greatly to the normal functioning of the hormones, as discussed above. Some of these hormones are our appetite hormones. On the physical side, they fluctuate outside of the normal range. Increased levels of the hormone that stimulates the appetite (ghrelin), compounded by decreased levels of the hormone that suppresses appetite (leptin), causes us to feel hungry when we shouldn’t. This leads to poor appetite regulation and overeating.
Good sleep also contributes greatly to our mood and behaviour. When we sleep well, everything in the body works better, and we get the right signals for what to eat and when. Poor sleep makes us crave snacks that aren’t good for us. We are tempted to eat fatty foods and other high-calorie junk that isn’t good for us or our waistlines.
The bottom line is that people who get good sleep tend to eat the right amount of calories and the right kinds of foods, and therefore maintain proper weight.