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Are you sleeping enough?

If not, beware because lack of sleep is one of the ultimate agers!

Last Friday was World Sleep Day and this weekend the clocks go forward in the UK, meaning we get one hour’s less sleep – woe! It will be darker in the morning but also lighter in the evening, which signifies that I will no longer be taking my daily walk in the dark – it is very atmospheric in the winter months but it will be SO good to get some more light!

Eight hours’ sleep each and every night is one of the pillars of my Dynamic Ageing protocols, but how many people manage to achieve that? In fact, how many of you understand how utterly crucial sleep is to your long-term health and wellbeing? A potential client once replied to this question that sleep is an absolute waste of time and she had far more important and interesting things to do in life...... And while that is obviously an extreme example, I do find that many people see “getting by” on six hours per night or even less as something to be proud of and boast about, rather like a badge of honour. Yes, we spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping but the hours which we spend asleep are the most important hours of our day or night for our long-term health, particularly our brain health – every good night’s sleep is a win and enriches and extends our lives, while every time we burn the candle at both ends, we create a cascade of negative health effects.

One aspect of sleep which I had not understood in the past is that sleep is not a passive activity. It is actually a high energy state, during which all sorts of processes take place, so let’s have a look at what our brain gets up to while we are snoring away. What in fact happens in our brain while we sleep?

1. The brain detoxifies itself during sleep, cleansing and rebuilding itself

2. Many toxins are created in the brain during the waking hours and then at night, while we sleep, the space between the brain cells expands which enables a liquid known as the glymphatic fluid to flow through and wash out cellular debris – think of it as the brain taking out its rubbish every night!

3. Damaged and faulty components which accumulate in the brain throughout the day, and life, get recycled during sleep

4. Sleep improves both long- and short-term recall and memory – in fact, sleep is when memory, skills and everything we have learned during the day gets consolidated

5. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, a feel good hormone, are rebooted during sleep

And what about the rest of the body?

1. The body’s repair systems are most active during sleep

2. The less you sleep, the more weight you are likely to put on

3. Vital hormones are rebuilt and balanced during sleep

4. Healthy bone growth happens during sleep

5. And sleep boosts the immune system

These are just a handful of the health-boosting activities which take place during a good night’s sleep but i also came across something in my research which really made my smile: people who sleep regularly are less likely to make bad financial decisions, while sleep-deprived individuals tend to be biased towards inappropriate risks! Ouch!

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