Most of us are well aware that we should be sleeping around 8 hours a night, but do we understand just how important this advice really is? Here I explore some ground-breaking research snippets that help confirm how pivotal sufficient sleep is for supporting key systems of your body.
We all know that sleep is important and that we really should get more! But it's likely that many of us don't fully appreciate just how important sleep really is when it comes to supporting some of the most major systems of our body. Throughout today's blog, I explain some of the reasons why good sleep really is so powerful, including the fact that it:
Plus, I provide some impressive research snippets to help back up these themes.
1. It keeps your immune system healthy
Especially in recent times, keeping our immune systems in tip top condition has been top of mind for many of us. But do you really appreciate the direct impact your sleep (or lack of it) could have on your body's ability to fight off invading pathogens?
Under the correct conditions, such as when you keep up a healthy diet, your immune system should be perfectly capable of fighting off any invading bugs, including bacteria and viruses, that are at risk of making you ill. However, unfortunately, as soon as your sleep comes under fire, this can prevent your body's immune capabilities from working to their full potential.
Natural Killer Cells (NKC) are your immune system's secret assassins. They are ruthless and will work tirelessly to hunt down any invading pathogens in order to eliminate them quickly before they have a chance to work on you and make you unwell. However, sleeping less than is optimal can have a dramatic effect, in that getting just 4 hours sleep, as opposed to the recommended 8, could bring your NKC cells down to 70% of their normal level. And just to prove this theory, once sleep resumes to normal, the levels of NKC were found to go back up to normal, ready to take on another day!1
The immune system is a complex system, though, and a whole host of different factors help it to work at its best, including our genes. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can also affect these too.
As genes can be switched on or off as a result of our environment, some extraordinary research found that during 6 hours of sleep (which many of us would assume is quite suitable!), some vital genes influencing our immune functions were switched off. In contrast, genes which are associated with some negative outcomes, including promoting inflammation in the body, were switched on2 – a double whammy which is unfortunately much more likely to result in us falling ill.
What can be done to help?
Whilst prioritising sleep is something you might want to do straight away, supporting your immune functions more generally with the correct nutrients, is also a vital part of the story.
Especially in recent times, fuelling the body with the right nutrients has been considered crucial in offering protection. Our Immune Support product helps to do just that. It has just the right levels of zinc and vitamin C, 7.5mg and 5µg respectively, to help offer that extra support.
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"I do what I can to ward off illness, and I trust Vogel to have created a superior immune support product. (It includes nasturtium extract, which appeals to me)."
We've all been told in the past to get a good night's sleep before a big test or exam, but that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sleep and brain function! Really, we need good sleep to support our brain function all throughout our lives, including both before and after periods of learning, as well as in the long-term to help protect our memories as we age.
One example of some research which highlights this direct effect, is a study that found that a lack of sleep can affect our ability to form new memories by up to 40%!3 That means nearly half of our experiences or attempts at learning are at risk of disappearing which is quite alarming. Of course, the cumulative effect of this over time is quite terrifying, and there is also the worry that sleep gets worse as we age anyway. So, we really need to start putting every effort in to improve our sleep as soon as we are able to do so.
What can be done to help?
Sleeping better is clearly key for better immune support and brain functions. However, for me the effect of just a few hours less sleep a night, say 6 hours instead of 8 as mentioned above2, is particularly striking. This just goes to show that our sleep needs are quite particular and shouldn't be tampered with too much!
Another worrying statistic is the number of people who rely heavily on sleep medications to meet their so-called sleep needs. A recent study found up to 5% of adults used them routinely.4
Unfortunately, it isn't just the quantity of sleep that is super important. The quality of the different stages of our sleep and the pattern of our brain waves throughout our period of shut-eye are also key. So, by supporting our sleep processes more gently, with the likes of Dormeasan which contains extracts of fresh Valerian and Hops, we can hope to get ourselves back on the right track both in terms of the length and quality of your sleep.
Why sleep is your super power: The difference between sleep medications and natural remedies.
What is the difference between sleep medications and natural remedies? In my video I discuss some of the statistics around the use of sleep medication and look at the difference between sleep medications and natural remedies.
3. It protects your heart
Cardiovascular health is one of the bigger killers of modern time, but do we readily consider the association between sleep and heart health? Considering sleep-disturbing, modern day habits such as shift work and advancing technology are on the rise, as well as heart disease deaths, it seems plausible the two could be connected but, just to help confirm it, we have some research statistics to back this idea.
Twice a year in the UK our clocks move either forward or back an hour, in what we call 'Daylight Saving Time'. If we are sticking to our regular sleep routines, for most of us this means that in Spring we lose an hour of sleep and in Autumn we gain an hour. Shockingly, a large research study has found that national heart attack rates went up by 24% on the day after the clocks changed when we've lost an hours sleep. On the day where we gained an hour, heart attack rates decreased by a whole 21%!5 This goes to show how much of a difference it could make to our health to ensure we go to bed that little bit earlier on a regular basis.
What can be done to help?
Routine is key. Regardless of how busy a day we have had at work or in our everyday lives, we need to factor in sufficient sleep to help protect our heart health. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends or during holidays, and your body will soon begin get in a better routine of sleeping at the right times. You'll soon reap the benefits!
'Based on a TED Talks by Professor Matthew Walker'.
We all know the impact of a bad night’s sleep which is why I’ve devised a personalised 6 day sleep plan to help you conquer your sleep problems, equipping you with the knowledge and tools to get a better night’s sleep.
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