Why a lack of good sleep is bad news

Are you getting enough good sleep?

We all like to get forty winks, but exactly how many are your getting? Sleep remains a cornerstone of any healthy regime; without a good night’s kip, achieving improvements in chronic complaints or body composition can become an uphill struggle.

Sleep allows energy requirements to drop below a threshold whereby the body’s pool of ATP, the universal energy currency across all of our cells, can be replenished rather than depleted.

The consequences of a poor night’s sleep

The consequences of not getting enough deep sleep can be quite serious. Although researchers from Warwich University recently found that chronic sleep problems double cardiovascular risk, most of the impact can be felt on an ongoing basis.

A poor night’s sleep measurably increases release of cortisol, the body’s major stress hormone, the following days; increased fat storage, impaired thinking and reduced insulin sensitivity are just some of the unwanted affects associated with the steroid hormone.

Growth hormone stands out as another important hormone affected by sleep patterns. Secreted in pulses, primarily during deep sleep, growth hormone triggers fat burning and increases cellular repair; the polite thing would be to facilitate its release by getting good sleep and enough of it.

Lack of sleep, and poor quality sleep

It is also worthwhile establishing the difference between not enough sleep, and poor quality sleep. Most clients that I meet for the first time are normally one or the other, sometimes both. In any case, you will know that you need to address your sleep if you consistently wake up tired.

I have yet to meet anyone whose sleep fully refreshes them on less than seven hours per night but, importantly, most individuals benefit most when they get closer to eight hours (this seems especially true of those people who are ‘too busy to sleep’). Equally, nine hours under the covers will provide you with little benefit if you are up to urinate three times during the night and then wake several hours before the alarm.

Dealing with the causes of bad quality sleep

Some familiar patterns develop when dealing with the causes of bad quality sleep. The most common revolves around magnesium deficiency. This mineral forms part of more than 300 enzymes in the body, although plays a particularly important role in deep sleep.

Those who require more magnesium (very likely you) will drift in an out of sleep during the night and wake up before the alarm. They are also likely to need to urinate at similar times each night.

A lack of darkness in the room can wreak similar damage to your prospects of waking refreshed. Street lamps will pour light into the room and inhibit the release of melatonin, required for setting your body clock and reaching a state of deep sleep.

Excessive stress hormones can also seriously interfere with this supposedly restful time. This can result not just from psychological stress, but going too long between meals during the day and over-consuming caffeine.

One man I know very well, who really should no better, doesn’t want to accept that a coffee in the evening always elevate brain waves and ruins the chances of quality sleep… but there’s no telling Dads sometimes!

Very few people can, hand on heart, say that there is nothing they can do to improve their sleep. With so many crucial benefits attached to getting a good night’s kip, you should take the appropriate action now. Unless you’re too tired.

London Nutritionist and Fitness TrainerAbout The Author

Marek Doyle is a London nutritionist, personal trainer and the pioneer of the Combined Allergy Test.

In 2008, he was recognised as one of the UK’s top trainers and counts world champion athletes, cover models and TV personalities amongst his clientèle.

His website is www.blueprintfitness.co.uk

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