Sleep is a remarkably productive and critical part of our lives, essential in fact to our overall health and well-being and just as important as eating healthily and exercising. It not only helps regulate our moods and appetite, reduces stress and keeps our immune systems strong but it’s important for brain function – maintaining and improving areas such as cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. During sleep we heal, restore and eliminate toxins from the skin, repairing damage from the day’s pollution, sun and stress. If our slumber is compromised, so is the body’s ability to carry out these essential functions.
Lack of sleep not only results in dark circles around our eyes and our skin having a grey and loose appearance but just one week of insufficient sleep will alter the activity of the cells which control our response to stress, triggering excessive amounts of cortisol which has been directly linked to problems with blood sugar, fatigue and unhealthy cravings.
It’s safe to say that sleep is too important to shortchange. If you feel you’re not getting enough, I recommend booking a regular massage session. It’s smart, healthy and drug-free; as well as leaving you feeling completely relaxed, a massage triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can help you feel calm – incidentally the brain uses serotonin to produce melatonin another hormone which tells the brain to slow down and prepare for sleep.
Whilst a short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about, the bigger concern is chronic sleep loss which can contribute to a variety of health problems. If you have had trouble sleeping for months, tried changing your sleeping habits but it hasn’t worked and your insominia is now affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope, please contact your local GP.