Is Sleep More Important than Nutrition and Exercise?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one third of Americans do not get enough sleep. It has officially become a public health problem, as it leads to numerous health concerns and risks. But is it more important than exercise and nutrition? Here’s what the experts are reporting.
Risk of Lack of Sleep
Overtime, lack of sleep is making us overeat, overweight and overly inflamed. The CDC reports that not getting enough is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
Today, the stress-filled, busy pace of life seems to be interfering with our healthy routines. Experts warn that if this does not change, you’ll burn out a lot sooner than you think. Michael Breus, PhD explains, “I find it so interesting that even the healthiest people will sacrifice their sleep. Your brain does not allow you to feel sleepy or sleep-deprived for quite a while. Thus you can “tough it out” or supplement with caffeine, and bypass a lot of the warning signs of sleep deprivation, even as a healthy person.”
But sleep does not just impact our mood. It also impacts digestion and gut health. Amy Shah, MD, is a gut health and hormone expert that reports that people do not understand the role it plays with a healthy gut. “My problem is too often people with very stressful lives skimp on sleep as a badge of honor and then wonder why they are not able to lose weight especially that that little bit of belly fat.”
A 2016 study by a group of Swedish and German scientists were among the very first to investigate the impact of insufficient sleep on the composition of the human microbiome. While it is a small study of nine healthy men, after only two nights of partial sleep deprivation, scientists found:
- A significant decrease in types of beneficial bacteria
- Changes to the composition of micro-organisms in the microbiome that are linked specifically to obesity and type 2 diabetes
- A significant decrease in insulin sensitivity
What you can do to get more (and better) rest
For many, obtaining the sleep we need to function at our best can be near impossible. You may have insomnia if you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. The good news is that there are some natural methods you can practice to help get you back on track.
- Turn off or do not use your cell phones/laptop/TV two hours before bed
- Turn to technology. Many wearables like fitness trackers now come with sleep monitoring.
You may want to turn to supplementation if you are still having trouble falling or staying asleep. According to Mille Lytle, ND, CNS, there are two top supplements that reign supreme for the rest you’ve been looking for.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythms, your body’s 24-hour clock that regulates your sleep/wake cycle. When Melatonin is high, cortisol (the stress hormone) is low. As a supplement, it “re-calibrates your 24-hour body clock.”
L-theanine is an extract from green tea that safely promotes relaxation and natural stress relief, without reducing alertness or cognitive ability.