It’s the beginning of a New Year and most of us are creating a list of new goals and new resolutions.
It may include a healthy diet, more exercise and making time for what matters most. But don’t forget to add sleep to your list. We tend to forget that sleep affects our physical and mental health and it forms an important part of our general well-being.1
Why do we need sleep?
Evidence shows us that there is a connection between sleep and cognitive functions, reasoning, directing behavioural objects and creative processes.1 Sleep disorders or short sleep ( less than 6 hours per day sleeping) can lead to heart diseases, hypertension, obesity and diabetes.1 Sleep disorders can also significantly impact quality of life, which includes general health, physical functions, cognitive and phycological effects and disrupt daily activities.
How do we fall asleep?
The hormone, melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain.2,3 Its production is stimulated by darkens and inhibited during daytime.3 Melatonin functions as a sleep regulator playing a role in the sleep-wake cycle also known as the circadian rhythm.2-4 The circadian rhythm is a 24 hour rhythm, which helps the body sleep at night and resets in the morning.4
The impact of sleep on our well being
Sleep and the work place
A lack of sleep leads to work absenteeism, decreased productivity, accidents of injuries and can also increase your medical costs.5 Studies show that sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea are contributors to work absenteeism, fatigue and sick leave.5 Sleep deficiency or poor sleep quality is related to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, overweight, chronic stress and psychological problems.5 Sleep is therefore important to be productive at work, focus on those deadlines and to stay healthy.
Can sleep help with weight-loss?
The role of sleep in weight-loss is gaining more attention. Studies have shown that reduced sleep or a lack of sleep increases the risk of weight gain.6,7 The reason is that insufficient sleep enhances a hedonic stimulus in the brain that drives our food intake leading to an increase in food consumption.6,7 Clinical data also show that short sleep duration can lead to a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).7 All the more reason to get more sleep and stay away from the fridge for a late night snack.
The role of sleep in exercise
Sleep is important for the body to recover from exercise. Athletes have an increased need for sleep to meet their specific energy requirements and the metabolic and vascular demands of their training. Sleep is important as it allows for the growth hormones to peak and cortisol to dip to its lowest point and this results in tissue restoration and restorative sleep.
Difficulty sleeping? Melatonin can help
Melatonin can be taken as a medicine to help with your sleeping difficulties. It has shown to improve sleep quality, morning alertness, sleep onset latency and quality of life.2
For more information on insomnia visit www.sleepless.co.za and download your free sleep diary.
Ask your doctor about the only registered melatonin tablet.
1. Rezaei O, Mokhayeri Y, Haroni J, et al. Association between sleep quality and quality of life among students: a cross sectional study. Int J of Adolescents Medicine and Healthy 2017;20170111:1-7.
2. Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, et al. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Current Medical Research and Opinion 2007;23(10):2597-2605.
3. Masters A, Pandi-Perumal SR, Seixas A, et al. Melatonin, the Hormone of Darkness: From Sleep Promotion to Ebola Treatment. Brain Disord Ther 2014;4(1):1-10.
4. Zisapel N. Melatonin and Sleep. The Open Neuroendocrinology 2010;3:85-95.
5. Azor SK, Grandner MA. Trouble Sleeping Associated with Lower Work Performance and Greater Healthcare Costs: Longitudinal Data from Kansas State Employee Wellness Program. J Occup Environ Med 2015;57(10):1031-1038.
6. Chaput JP, Tremblay A. Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity. CMAJ 2012;184(18):1975-1976.
7. Chow CM. Sleep and Wellbeing, Now and in the Future. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020;17:1-4.
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