Sleeping well could be THE most important thing you do for your health. Not only can it help you age well and live longer, but there is no major system in your body (or function in your brain) that isn’t enhanced when you sleep well – or compromised when you don’t.
Healthy parasympathetic response helps control a stressed-out sympathetic system, calms your body’s internal environment, and paves the way for a more restful sleep. Combine regular care with good sleep habits…and Bob’s your uncle! The proof is in the pudding; patients who heed my counsel on this tend to get better results.
For instance, losing even an hour of sleep can put you at higher risk for a heart attack.
A 2014 study published in the journal Open Heart looked at over 42,000 hospital admissions. It found there is a 24% increase in heart attacks the day after we make the switch to daylight savings time! (but I wouldn’t overreact to this statistic without looking at other health factors as well)
Lack of sleep ages you hormonally; men deprived of sleep (even for short periods) display drastically lower testosterone levels. It weakens your body’s natural immunity; people who sleep less than seven hours per night are three times more likely to get a cold.
Subpar zzzz’s are also known to lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression. And according to one study, not sleeping enough before a flu shot may produce 50% less antibodies, thereby making the vaccine less effective.
The above examples illustrate why good sleep is the best insurance policy!
But there IS a catch:
This works only as a daily, consistent habit.
See, it turns out that it’s not all that easy to catch up on sleep. In other words, sleep is not a bank. You can’t go into ‘sleep debt’ during the week and hope to pay it back on the weekend. In fact, research has shown it can take up to four days to recover from one hour of lost sleep. Miss one night’s sleep, and even 2-3 nights of perfect sleep might pay off only 50% of what you “owe”. Over weeks and months, sleep debt resulting from inadequate rest builds up like the interest on your credit card balance. Scientists estimate it can take nine days or more to reset your body’s baseline.
All that’s to say, it’s better not to treat The Sandman like a Visa or Mastercard.
Prioritize your sleep, make it a nightly commitment, and not only will you have a more joyful, more vibrant day-to-day life, but you’ll happily avoid all the nasty effects of poor sleep on your brain and body. I can certainly attest to this!
Regular chiropractic care can help too. Indeed, many patients report sleeping better almost as soon as their first adjustment. One reason for this is chiropractic supports the healthy function of your parasympathetic nervous system.
If there are any questions I can answer for you on this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us and ask. And stay tuned for a future post when I’ll delve deeper into what I consider good sleep hygiene!
Until next time,