Sleep – the Subtle Key to Health

I always tell my patients that sleep is the 8th wonder of the world. Why? Because it does the body so much good. A good night’s sleep resets mood, motivation, and energy for the new day.

I ask you to imagine that your body is a business that must operate 24/7. The daytime employees are in charge of the functions of vision, digestion, mobility, cognition along with making sure that senses are alert. During the day, people can see that business is open and many operations are happening at one time. Daytime business hours are the most popular hours of operation because there is communication, transactions and interactions with other businesses.

The overnight employees may not have as hectic environments to work in, but they are present nonetheless. For example, overnight employees don’t have to worry about reacting to light, sight, performing digestion and sense sound as much, but there are important figures at play: the liver is very active, tissue repair is happening, your brain gets to rest (unless dreaming), hormone regulation continues and the body temperature drops. So in essence, your body is a corporation that is optimal when the assigned operations are set in motion during the day and night. When a daytime worker is assigned for night duty or in reverse, there is dysfunction. Here are some examples:

  • eating late at night (acid reflux, difficulty sleeping, morning bloat, weight gain)
  • full-time work overnight (hypertension, depressed mood, weight gain)
  • lack of sleep (decreased cognition, hypertension, decreased immunity)

When we strive to maintain an adequate sleep schedule with healthy daytime activities, this balance creates a healthier state overall. For many people, a lack of sleep may manifest in being tired later in the week that is jolted back to some semblance of normalcy with cup of caffeine or a sleep-in day on the weekend. However, the impacts of healthy sleep are more noticeable to some individuals’ day-to-day function. Those with autoimmune conditions, depression or hormone imbalances must implement sleep as part of their treatment plan because a disruption in their health is noticeable right when they wake up. There have been many studies with sleep and there continues to be so because of its connection to so many different aspects of health.

There is no single magic number but the consensus among experts is 7-9 hours nightly will keep bookkeeping in the green/black. A healthy sleep habit may be the piece your routine is missing to make that positive change you have been seeking. Is it a clearer mind? Healthier eating habits? More patience for those you love? The motivation to learn something new? Offer yourself the opportunity of regular healthy sleep and see what positive changes may manifest in your life.