Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage.
While you sleep your body produces melatonin which is a sleep hormone that helps control your wake and sleep cycles. Melatonin is one of your body’s most powerful antioxidants and also works to boost and support the immune system.
Melatonin is said to have anti-aging properties because of its abilities to combat oxidative stress and is also believed to be involved in energy metabolism and plays a part in controlling weight gain.
Individuals with low melatonin are at increased risk of developing problems like type 2 diabetes, weight gain or depression.
Inadequate or poor quality sleep will eventually adversely affect your health, your performance levels and your ability to stay safe, like when you are driving for example.
Short term poor sleep brought on by stress or illness that resolves is not an issue other than feeling tired for a few days. However, ongoing sleep issues that are related to undiagnosed sleep disorders or poor sleep hygiene like having coffee before bed, constantly staying up too late, using your iPad just before bed etc need to be addressed if your health is not to suffer.
Light affects how much melatonin your body produces. Staying up late with the lights on and the use of devices that emit blue light like smartphones, iPads and computers and not getting enough natural sunlight during the day to confuse your body and alter your melatonin production. Thus making it harder for you to get off to sleep and have good quality reparative sleep once you do manage to nod off.
To improve your sleep hygiene habits:
The most common sleep disorders involve imbalances in the sleep-wake rhythms and centres that control sleep regulation. These are medical conditions that need treatment by a sleep specialist.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – OSA temporarily blocks breathing in the upper airways during sleep, causing loud, laboured snoring and stressful sleep interruptions frequently throughout a single night. Resulting in severe daytime drowsiness, depression, moodiness, and inability to concentrate during the waking hours.
A special device fitted by your dentist can help mild to moderate cases of OSA but a CPAP machine that helps control the airway is required in more severe cases.
If you think you have sleep apnoea then consult a dentist trained in sleep disorders and your doctor or physician.
Not everyone requires 7-9 hours sleep, some live very well and full of energy on less sleep than this, however, the key is to relax and wind down before sleep and the best approach appears to be early to bed early to rise to get the most benefit from the healing and regenerative capacities that sleep offers.
Sleep is important as it helps you to repair and rebuild tissues literally in your sleep.
Every aspect of our health is affected by the quality of our sleep. Sleep is the building block of health and is how the body regenerates every day.