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More than Just Beauty Sleep

The many benefits of a restful shut-eye

One can never overemphasise the importance of sufficient sleep. A study1 held at the University of California, San Diego, and the San Diego VA Medical Center showed the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain. Sleep deprivation has also been proven in several other studies to be the main cause of accidents at work and on the road.

Let’s not look far, however, and check ourselves in the mirror whenever we fall short on the eight-hour suggested sleep time. Yes, indeed, it isn’t called a ‘beauty sleep’ for nothing. Deprive yourself a couple of hours of sleep and what do you get in return? Eye bags, dry skin, dull hair, and the list goes on.

Your Skin and Sleep Deprivation

Sufficient sleep allows our body to rejuvenate. But how exactly does our skin benefit from sleep? As we snooze, our body produces human growth hormone, which is necessary in the production of collagen to keep our skin plump and wrinkle-free. On the other hand, insufficient sleep causes the body to produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that can break down skin cells.2 As for dark circles under our eyes? San Francisco-based dermatologist Sonia Badreshia-Bansal explained, “Lack of sleep causes blood vessels to dilate, causing the look of dark circles.” Of course, other factors such as asthma, allergy and medications may also cause dark circles under our eyes.

Lack of sleep can also create a vicious cycle that could prove fatal in our fight against early signs of ageing. Sleep deprivation doesn’t simply affect the condition of our skin, it also increases our stress level, which can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, hence the production of oxidative stress that produces wrinkles and other scary signs of ageing. If you think you’re still young to get wrinkles and eye bags so it’s okay to stay late at night to catch your favourite shows on TV, chat on Facebook or party at clubs, think again. It may not come sooner and not be in the form of wrinkles, but it will take its toll eventually. Sometimes, it comes in the form of unwanted pounds and extra layer of cellulites.

Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain

In an article in WebMD, Michael Breus, author of Beauty Sleep, explained the relationship between sleep and weight gain. “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”3 He said our body’s ability to lose weight has something to do with hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that signals you when to eat, and leptin tells you when to stop eating. When you don’t have sufficient sleep, you have more ghrelin and less leptin. “More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Dr Breus added.

Sleep and Our Immune System

If wrinkles, dry skin and weight gain are not enough to convince you about the dangers of sleep deprivation, maybe a weakened immune system would. Many research and studies have proved that people who are sleep deprived are more prone to sickness, and less likely to recover fast when they get sick. According to Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D., of Mayo Clinic, “During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.”4 What’s worse is that chronic sleep deprivation may increase your risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.






Posted by ezyhealth on Apr 17 2013. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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