Monday, 12 September 2011

Can a Good Night’s Sleep Make us Look Younger and Slimmer?

We all know that sleep is a vital part of our bodies' health but can a lack of a good nights uninterrupted sleep have a bigger effect on our health then we realise?

This year's Mental Health Awareness Week focussed on sleep as being vital to our ability to stay mentally healthy. Up to one third of us may suffer from insomnia. This can affect mood, energy, concentration levels, our relationships and our ability to function during the day. Sleeping poorly increases the risk of having poor mental health.

“While energetic twenty-somethings might not show any ill-effects of repeated late nights, as we age insufficient rest has a dramatic effect on our looks, too.

Brad Pitt recently admitted that six children means virtually no sleep - and it’s clear from his exhausted appearance that he wasn’t joking. But the ever-glowing J-Lo (below) claims to get at least eight hours a night, which may explain why she appears ten years younger than her real age.

Dr Shahrad Taheri, a consultant endocrinologist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital has done a series of studies looking at weight and sleep, and studying the metabolic rate. He says: ‘We discovered that people who sleep for significantly less than seven hours a night often end up being obese.’

It also seems that people who sleep for fewer than four hours a night are 73 per cent more likely to gain excess weight, while restricting sleep can lead to cravings for up to 900 extra calories a day.

Recent research discovered that sleep deprivation has a similar hormonal effect to the aging process and may even increase the likelihood of age-related diseases. Eve Van Cauter, the scientist who led the study, says: ‘We suspect sleep loss may not only hasten the onset, but could also increase the severity of ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss.’

Other studies have shown that sleep deprivation produces a stress reaction in the body, raising levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and glucose, which can indicate a higher risk of heart disease and strokes. Interrupted sleep can also affect blood pressure (which usually falls during the night) and leave us vulnerable to colds and flu.

During deep sleep, new skin cells are produced. The reason so many of us feel and look ten years younger after a holiday is because, for once, we’ve had enough sleep.

‘One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to repair itself,’ says professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University.

‘During deep sleep, the cortex [the largest part of the brain, governing higher function such as thought and action] goes into recovery mode. Without that period of rest, you may wake up irritable, moody, forgetful and unable to focus on tasks.’ ” Click here for full article.

Hypnotherapy, CBT & NLP can help you to understand your stressors and find out why you are struggling to sleep. You will leave the sessions with the tools you need to have a good night’s sleep, waking up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Our bodies and minds are amazing resourceful things that can put up with a lot of the pressure we put on them, but they need support from us to maintain their health, allowing us to feel full of energy, younger and fitter ready for what life has to offer us.

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