How Sleep and Stress Affect Your Health

In this episode, we discuss the second Pillar of Health, stress management. Stress can come in many different forms. Yes, there are the obvious forms of stress. Being fired from a job, divorce, a cancer diagnosis, and death of a family member are obviously incredibly stressful events. However, positive events, like a wedding, promotion, or a birth of a child can be stressful, too.

There is a large spectrum in which stress can lie. We all have our own ways of dealing with stress. It could be a spa day, a long, quiet walk in nature, or playing with your kids. We need these things because, whether we know it or not, stress has a negative impact on our health. Added stress can play a role in many chronic disease processes.

There are studies that suggest continuous stress can play a role in the development and proliferation of disease. It is almost impossible to eliminate all stress for good, but there are a variety of strategies that can put into place to help minimize the stress in our lives and improve our ability to cope with it.

Believe it or not, sleep plays a crucial role in your overall health. Getting the right amount of sleep can improve your mental and physical health, as well as your overall quality of life. When you sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. For children and teenagers, sleep is vital to support growth and development. A lack of sleep can have negative effects on your health in a variety of ways. In this video, we will go over how to improve both sleep quality and quantity going forward!

Getting enough good-quality sleep will improve your overall function through the day.  If you are losing even 1 to 2 hours of sleep a night, after a few nights your body will begin to function as if you have not slept in the past couple of days.

Sleep deficiency is not just harmful on a personal level; it can also cause large-scale damage.  Sleep deficiency has been linked to car accidents, among other potential dangerous situations.

Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney disease.  In fact, one study found that sleep deprived children increased their risk of developing obesity by 89%, while adults’ risk increases 55%.

Sleep helps maintain healthy balance of the major hunger hormones, ghrelin and leptin.  Ghrelin is released to trigger hunger, while leptin is released to signal the sensation of fullness.  Without enough sleep, ghrelin levels rise, while leptin levels fall, meaning that you will feel hungrier when you lack sleep versus being well-rested. 

Immune system function is affected by sleep as well.  Without proper amounts of sleep, the body will find it more difficult to fight infections. 

Some studies show that a lack of sleep can alter brain activity in particular areas.  Sleep is important for staying attentive and learning. 

Those who are sleep deprived showed more trouble with decision-making, problem solving, controlling emotions and behavior, as well as coping with change.  Additionally, sleep deprivation has been linked to risk-taking behavior, depression, and suicide.

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