Do you know the consequences of impaired sleep? Let me explain you first what is the meaning of “Inadequate Sleep”:
“Inadequate sleep, in terms of either quality or quantity, is a known risk factor for several diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, vascular disorders, metabolic dysfunction and neurocognitive …” Fatemeh, G., Sajjad, M., Niloufar, R. et al. Effect of melatonin supplementation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Neurol269, 205–216 (2022). Source
Why We Need A Good Sleep?
- Sleep supports the brain in storing information and regulating emotions, thus with impaired sleep decreases cognitive and neuro behavioral performances which result in the following: brain fog, difficulties concentrating and staying awake, fatigue, emotional instability and irritability
- Impaired liver detox function of chemicals, hormones, medications and alcohol
- Impaired regulation of immune parameters – leucocytes, cytokines and immune memory resulting in an increased risk of infections
- Impaired regulation of the hunger and satiety hormones, leptin and ghrelin, resulting in increased hunger and body weight
- Increased risk for diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer, hypertension and cardio metabolic disease (low grade systemic inflammation and increase of pro inflammatory cytokines)
- Higher mortality rate with less than 6 hours-sleep per night
- Increased cortisol levels*, also known as the stress hormone
A Few Words on Cortisol: How Does it Affect Our Sleep?
It is secreted by our adrenal glands and is also called stress hormone but it is more a survival hormone. In fact, in chronic stress or in danger situations, cortisol kicks in to compensate from the decrease in adrenaline and other resources like potassium, magnesium, sodium or zinc.
When it is released, it sets the body in the flight or fight mode. In other words, the body:
- Decreases or stops digestion,
- Regulates blood sugar with the secretion of insulin in order to meet the energy demand,
- Regulates blood pressure and heart function,
- Alters the immune function,
- Increases appetite and
- Decreases serotonin
Finally, cortisol is antagonist to melatonin, our sleep hormone. Thus, controlling our cortisol levels is key to managing good sleep. Cortisol should be high in the morning to get us going and at its lowest in evening before bedtime.
Try to adopt a good sleeping routine going to bed always at the same time, between 10 and 11 pm, in a calm, fresh and totally dark bedroom.