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From Jordan's Desk: You Snooze, You Win

Beauty Moves

There’s no question that many of us are sleep deprived. In fact, the CDC reports that more than a third of U.S. adults sleep fewer than seven hours a night, which can result in trouble concentrating, remembering and even driving.

Sleep is a powerful life force, too. The need for adequate sleep is often compared to our need to eat well because it’s a basic requirement for health. During sleep, the body restores itself through muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, growth hormone release and more. Over time, lack of sleep can zap your strength levels.

Then there’s the effects of sleep on our brains. Chiar Cirelli, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says that, among other things, a good night’s sleep helps us learn more daily. During the learning process, our synapses—the connections between our brains’ neurons—grow and increase in number, while consuming more fuel. Proper sleep rests and renews brain activity and synapses, resulting in reinvigorated learning the next day. Lack of adequate sleep, however, does the opposite. It creates a brain fog—possibly due to the synapses not getting a much-needed break. Cirelli coined a phrase for this daily brain rejuvenation: synaptic homeostasis.

Other scientists agree about lack of sleep and its impact on brain function. They say that when the connections between the cells in our brains are not given a rest via enough sleep, then they become increasingly erratic and altered. The most affected areas include those necessary for memory, executive functioning and attention.

Your immune system can also take it hit from lack of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your white blood cell activity wanes, and that can increase your chances of getting sick. Sleep and immune function go hand-in-hand, too. A healthy immune system supports deep sleep, but missing out on enough shuteye can create an unwanted vicious cycle with the immune system.

Then there’s blood sugar balance. Lack of sleep directly affects the body’s ability to metabolize glucose, which can result in unhealthy blood sugar. In fact, one study cites that regularly getting fewer than six hours of sleep can make a person 4.5 times more likely to start down the unhealthy blood sugar road.

A person’s mood is also messed with when sleep is elusive. Research indicates that, in addition to becoming a bit cranky after missed sleep, chronic sleep shortfall can increase the risk of serious mood disturbances between 5 and 20 times compared to those who get enough sleep.

No matter what our culture may say about losing if you snooze, I’m here to tell you that if you snooze, you win. So make sure you’re getting enough shuteye.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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