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Why Sleep is a Nutrient

We are lucky! These days we can plug in at anytime of the day and check in on our friends, our work and on our to do list. But this relentless access has a price. In lust of a more productive work day, we compromise our diet, our play and most often our sleep and the result can be brutal.

Sleep nourishes our body like good food and in essence is a nutrient.

During sleep our bodies are in an anabolic state, powered down, allowing for restorative functions of the brain, immune system, nervous system, endocrine and muscular system. This down time is essential for a properly functioning body.

Sleep deprivation has obvious down sides including negative effects on mood and cognition. Poor sleep has been linked to greater depression, anxiety and anhedonia- that means just feeling blah. Poor sleep also results in  reduced productivity in the work place, poor memory and decision making. All this is predictable, BUT…

Sleep deprivation is also linked to metabolic dysfunction. As little as 2 days of sleep deprivation results in insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes. Just 2 days!

This degree of sleep deprivation also results in a surge in appetite hormones – a physiologic drive towards hunger, cravings and specifically cravings for high fat and high calorie foods.

So what to do?

  1. Shoot for 7 hours of sleep per night, 8 hours per night is ideal.
  2. Clean up your sleep ritual. Eliminate triggers for insomnia like over-caffeination, screen-time and heavy meals before bedtime.
  3. Try napping- believe it or not the siesta has been associated with a 37% reduction in mortality!
  4. Review your drugs, over the counter medications such as antihistamines as well as prescribed sleep aids- both benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (ie sleep aids)  can interfere with REM sleep and have a rebound effect of insomnia.
  5. Review your Drugs! alcohol and cannabis, which can make one sleepy in the short term, also affect REM sleep and in the long term can compramise good sleep.

In short, sleep is necessary to a healthy mind and body. Prioritize your health by prioritising good sleep.


In good health,

Dr. Adrienne Youdim

Dr. Adrienne Youdim

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