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Why you need to sleep more – it’s not just about energy.

Sleep represents an essential element for health and well-being, including cognitive performance, physiological processes, emotion regulation, physical development, and quality of life. Appropriate sleep duration ranges vary throughout the lifespan.

National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health, v.1, p.40, 2015, Hirshkowitz M. et al.

Beyond feeling tired the detriments of sleep deprivation are huge.

There is a intricate dance of hormones that are secreted during sleep that impact everything from growth and development, physiological repair, mental emotional balance and metabolism.

So how does this affect you?

  • For children growth and development can be impacted by inadequate sleep due to decrease secretion of growth hormone that peaks during sleep.
  • In teens mood and emotions can be impacted not only by the onset of new hormones related to puberty but also lack of sleep.  Melatonin levels are often affected due to light exposure for devices, and light in evening.
  • Women always have to walk a fine line of hormonal balance when it comes to finding optimal sleep.
    • Menstruating women will often note sleep disruptions during hormonal shifts throughout month.
    • Pregnant women will have an abundance of progesterone that influence many of the hormones associated in growth and development of the baby.
    • Breastfeeding women are often still influenced by many of the hormones of pregnancy as well as prolactin, the lactation hormone.
    • Postmenopausal women will have to work to establish a new balance with the decline of estrogen.
  • Men also have fluctuations in hormones that can impact sleep, as testosterone levels will also decline with age.

As a Naturopathic Doctor I am passionate about hormones and the intricate balance that must be achieved.

A few quick tips for optimizing sleep

  • Limit blue light exposure before bed (turn off your devices, use a filter, or wear light blocking glasses)
  • Have a bit of protein before bed (palmful of nuts/seeds) helps to keep your blood sugar balanced.
  • Bring stress management techniques into your life (restorative movement, creative outlet, bolstering social support.

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