Sleep – What a beautiful thing
Sleep is crucial for our bodies to run optimally. While you rest at night, your body is busy maintaining, restoring, and strengthening itself. Sleep helps refresh and restore our brain and organ systems. It also regulates important hormones in your body, including fertility related hormones. Therefore, sleep plays a vital role in our everyday lives. An adequate amount of sleep is needed for overall health, quality of life, mood and cognitive function. In this blog, I will be explaining the hormonal connection between sleep and fertility and including a few tips for a better night’s sleep.
How exactly does sleep affect our bodies?
Hormones: The most significant way that sleep can affect your general well-being is through hormone production. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will produce less of some hormones and too much of others.
Central Nervous System: Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, not enough sleep can disrupt how your body usually sends and processes information. While you sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in your brain helping you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted. As a result, your nervous system can’t perform its duties as well affecting concentration, coordination, and making it difficult to learn new things.
Immune System: While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting antibodies to fight off infections, viruses and illness. Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off foreign harmful invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
Digestive System: Sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obese. Sleep affects levels of the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. The fluctuation of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in the night.
Sleep deprivation also causes your body to release less insulin after you eat. Insulin helps to reduce your blood sugar level. The disruption in insulin production can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise decision-making processes and creativity.
Sleep Deprivation – This will signal the body to produce more stress hormones in your body. This is harmful for your overall health and can throw off levels of estrogen, testosterone, and other reproductive hormones.
Fertility: The same part of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake hormones also trigger the release of reproductive hormones. These hormones are needed to trigger ovulation in women and sperm maturation in men. Both of which are important for fertility.
Emotional Health and Mood – A lack of sleep can make you feel tired, irritable and moody.
Libido – The hormonal imbalance caused by lack of sleep can decrease your libido
How Much Sleep Should I Get?
The key to sleep is balance. You do not want too much or too little. The amount of sleep required varies from person to person but aim for 7-9 hours of sleep at night.
In 2019, Statistics Canada published that:
1 in 3 adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night.
1 in 2 adults (55%) have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.
1 in 5 adults do not find their sleep refreshing.
Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Keep Sleep and Wake Time Consistent – Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends if possible. Depending on your schedule, it is best to sleep between 10pm and 7am.
Reduce Stress- Chronic stress is one of the main factors related to insufficient sleep. In 2019, Statistics Canada published that 36.3% of adults reported chronic stress as a reason for their lack of sleep. Relaxation and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques could help lead to better sleep.
Get Outdoors/Exercise Daily – Aim for 1 hour of sunlight every day. This can be split up throughout the day to fit your schedule. A brisk walk in the morning and midday will improve your ability to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep.
Still Your Mind – Before bed, avoid electronics that emit blue light, watching TV, or doing anything that could keep your mind racing at night. Try some deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques to quiet down you mind.
Relax Before Bed – Try taking a bath or shower with calming essential oils to help reduce stress, calm your mind, and help you relax into a peaceful sleep.
Adjust your Lighting – Start dimming the lights in the evening. Bright lights have been shown to suppress melatonin, a hormone your body produces in response to darkness. Melatonin is often referred to as the sleep hormone and is needed for the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, dimming your lights will increase your melatonin production before bed which will help with your sleep difficulties.
Stimulants – Stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol should be limited and taken 5 hours before bedtime so it does not interfere with your sleep patterns.
1. Best Rest Formula by Pure Encapsulations: Best-Rest Formula supports sleep quality and a healthy sleep cycle by encouraging an easy transition to sleep and a restful night’s sleep. This unique blend contains valerian, passion flower, chamomile, lemon balm and hops, which are traditionally used in Herbal Medicine.
2. Lavender Sap by NFH: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has been traditionally used in herbal medicine for centuries for its anxiolytic and calming properties. Lavender essential oil for oral supplementation is obtained from steam distillation of the flowering tops of L. angustifolia. Containing more than 160 different substances, the anxiolytic effects of lavender oil are attributed to the active ingredients linalool and linalyl acetate. Recently, several clinical trials have substantiated the efficacy of oral supplementation with lavender oil at a dose of 80 mg once daily for symptoms of anxiety, depression, restlessness, agitation, and disturbed sleep.
3. Mag Glycinate by Metagenics: Magnesium supports muscle relaxation and nervous system health.
4. Melatonin by Alpha Science: Helps increase the total sleep time (aspect of sleep quality) in people suffering from sleep restriction or altered sleep schedule, e.g. shift-work and jet lag.
4. Rest Reset by Douglas Labs: Rest Reset™ is a unique formula combining Lactium® casein decapeptide, passionflower extract and melatonin, to support multiple facets of sleep and stress. Lactium® has been shown to help temporarily reduce symptoms of mild mental and physical stress. It provides a calming effect and may modify nervous transmission in the GABA receptor to support the function of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. Passionflower also provides a calming effect, and is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a sleep aid in cases of restlessness or insomnia due to mental stress. Melatonin helps to maintain normal sleep cycles and increases the total sleep time in people suffering from sleep restriction or altered sleep schedules, including shift work and jet lag.
As you can see, sleep is vital to everyone’s overall health. Getting the optimal amount of sleep every night can help maximize your general health and well-being.
Blog Written by: Kacia Mongeau
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