Did you know fewer brain cells are produced if you are not getting enough sleep?
Basically, if you don’t get enough shut eye your health and well being will suffer, and now researchers have found that sleep is not only beneficial to your health but also vital for brain health.
Their research found that the brain removes toxic waste through the glymphatic system which increases while we sleep allowing harmful toxins to be removed including harmful proteins that have been linked to brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s for example. They also found that the brain shrinks by 60% while we sleep which allowed for more effective waste removal.
The Glymphatic System is the brain’s unique way of getting rid of toxins by flushing them out which is similar to the Lymphatic system which is the body’s way of removing waste. The Glymphatic system works by pumping cerebral spinal fluid through the tissues in the brain and then flushes them into the body’s circulatory system where it eventually reaches the liver where it is flushed away. Sleep is vital for physical emotional and mental wellbeing and helps your body and brain recover from a busy day and lets you feel alert and ready to deal with what life throws at you the next day!.
Not only is the Glymphatic System 10 times more effective when we are asleep but your brain cells shrink by 60% which gives more space for the cerebrospinal fluid to get rid of the waste so if you are not getting enough sleep fewer brain cells are being produced.
Not getting enough sleep can make it harder to perform to the best of your ability but it also can affect your memory and make it harder to think clearly if you are only getting between 4- 6 hours of sleep a night. We are all aware of that “muzzy” feeling you get when you feel tired but prolonged lack of sleep can lead to the following health problems:-
- Increases levels of Cortisol(Stress Hormone) so even if there isn’t a reason to feel stressed you are going to be less able to function without enough sleep and if you are feeling stressed anyway this is going to make it even more difficult. If you go a long time without sleep, this could lead to mental illness or make an existing mental illness problem worse. In a study of sleep habits of those who were suffering with depression/anxiety the majority were getting less than 6 hours sleep a night.
2. Increases your risk of heart disease – this is because your blood pressure and heart rate rises along with an increase in certain chemicals which are linked to inflammation which may put extra strain on your heart.
3. Makes you put on weight – this is because there is less of the chemical GPL-1 (which makes you feel full) and more
Ghrelin ( the chemical that makes you feel hungry)
4. Increase your chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes – If you are getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night, your body changes the way it processes Glucose which is the carbohydrate the cells convert to fuel.
5. More likely to catch every illness doing the rounds – You’re less likely to be able to fight infection if you’re not getting enough sleep as your immune system is disrupted.
These tips can help you to get a better night’s sleep:-
- Avoid using your laptop/phone/tablet an hour before bed if possible at night to stop you from reading an email or watching something that is going to play on your mind. Turning any electronic devises off so they are not omitting blue light which interferes with your sleep hormones or waking you up because you have a message.
2. Have a warm bath before bed which will help to relax you and get your body ready to rest.
3. A few drops of lavender oil on a pillow or on a tissue will also help you to relax and drift off.
4. Reading a book providing it is not too in depth or scary! Reading something funny before bed as laughter makes our brain release endorphins which help us feel happier, it is good for the heart, boosts our mood and improves our mental wellbeing. http://www.mind-bodywellness.co.uk/blog/why-going- to-bed-laughing-can-help-get-a-good-nights-sleep
5. Relaxation Exercises like light yoga stretches or meditation help you unwind and feel more relaxed.
6. Breathing Exercises – Square Breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4, hold for 4 and so on. This reduces your stress hormones and increases serotonin, which is your happy and sleep hormone.
7. Eat foods that will stimulate sleep such as high protein foods containing tryptophan with some carbs, such as rice, to help absorption of the tryptophan. Trytophan converts to serotonin, which helps us to sleep:-
- Dairy – (Warm milk before bed)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Pineapples (contain melatonin in small quantities)
- Bananas, Oranges
9. Sleep in Complete darkness
10. Light Therapy – Wake up at the same time each morning and look at the sunshine or use a light box to reset your biological rhythms
11. Positivity – Gratitude Diary – 3 things you are grateful and appreciate or enjoyed every day before bed. As positive thoughts have been found to help people sleep well before bed, rather than thinking of problems and hassles.
12. Writing a To Do list which helps you have a better idea how you are going to plan your next day and helps to get your thoughts in order.
13. Keep a pen and paper by your bed to jot anything that pops into your mind so you can let it go.
For anything that is stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep and causing you to worry please get in touch with me so we can deal with it.