Do you remember someone saying to you “You snooze, you lose” when you missed out on a great opportunity? This year I want to encourage you to flip that phrase around to “You lose if you don’t snooze.” A good night’s sleep is crucial for a woman of any age. You yearn for a solid night’s rest with sweet dreams, yet you are staring into the dark with eyes wide open. Not only do you feel exhausted the next day, your health is at risk due to sleep deprivation. Let’s take a look at why sleep is so essential to your health. I spoke with several sleep experts to obtain their advice.
Why is Sleep Important to Your Health?
Kelly Gullo, a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist at the Sleep Disorder Center at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin said, “Sleep is just as important as food and water.” Your body requires at least eight hours of sleep. According to Kelly, sleep gives your body the opportunity to “Restore, Repair and Rejuvenate.” Your body kicks into the crucial restorative mode that balances natural chemicals, strengthens your immunity and preserves your memory. Kelly explained “Your brain is your filing system and at night the brain moves information to either short term or long term memory areas. If you do not get enough sleep, you have problems with memory.”
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board certified internist from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and an expert in the field of chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep, shared his thoughts with me. “Sleep is not a waste of time but rather the repair cycle. Sleep helps to restore levels of brain neurotransmitters such as the ‘happiness’ molecule serotonin and your body’s natural Valium called GABA. This means sleep not only helps you to look great, but also to feel great about life!”
Why is Lack of Sleep Dangerous to Your Health?
Insomnia and lack of sleep contribute to dangerous health issues for women such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and depression. Kelly said, “Heart attacks, heart failure, an irregular heart beat and high blood pressure can all be related to sleeplessness.” Dr. Teitelbaum explained, “Inadequate sleep contributes to fibromyalgia, and increased pain in general, weight gain, obesity and poor immune function.”
How Does the Hormone Melatonin Help You Sleep?
Your body has a natural cycle of waking and sleeping. This “internal clock” is controlled by the hormone melatonin which is produced in your pineal gland. During the day the levels of melatonin are low keeping you awake. The levels rise during the night, making you sleepy. Exposure to bright light at night may interrupt the natural melatonin cycle in your body. As you get older, the normal levels of melatonin drop, which may cause sleeplessness.
Because it all begins with a healthy woman…
Sue Ann Thompson is founder and president of the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF), a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential. WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection of diseases that affect women the most; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit wwhf.org or call 1-800-448-5148.