When we were little kids, staying up past our bedtimes was the ultimate life goal. As big people, we’re quick to sacrifice sleep in favor of working – and sometimes partying – into the wee hours.
As we get older, lack of sleep can wreak havoc on our bodies – contributing to not only a deterioration in health overall, but making us more susceptible to inflammation and weight gain, as well as chronic illness, anxiety, and depression.
How many times have you heard someone say: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” But the reality is that, if you’re not sleeping enough, you might bite it sooner rather than later. I know that sounds harsh. But we are in a sleep crisis worldwide. Lack of sleep costs the U.S. economy $411 billion dollars per year, including lost work days and medical costs due to disease, injury, and mental health issues. Yet, we keep glorifying lack of sleep. Even the current president claims to sleep only 4 hours per night and recommends that no one should ‘sleep more than they have to’.
We have to sleep. Without it, our bodies simply break down. When we sleep, our tissues are repaired, our energy is restored, and hormones, such as growth hormone, are released. Proper sleep helps our brains recover, recharge, and cleanse itself of toxins. We wake replenished.
But, according to Harvard University, more than 60% of women regularly fall short of their sleep needs and one third of Americans are sleep deprived. Many of us are working multiple jobs, juggling kids and projects, sacrificing our sleep now in exchange for the greater prosperity we’re working toward in the future. We’re up late at night on our phones (which contributes to poor sleep quality by disturbing our circadian rhythms), de-stressing with alcohol (which interrupts our sleep patterns), and drinking too much coffee (which, when we consume too much and too late in the day, can keep us from falling asleep).
Adults need 7 to 9 hours a sleep at night to function optimally. Even losing 1 to 2 hours in one night can cause a general slowing of response speed and increased variability in performance, particularly for simple measures of alertness, attention and vigilance according to one study. What that means is you’ll be more likely to forget simple information (like where you put your keys and/or phone), more likely to find yourself in confusion or conflict (when you’re late to pick up your gf/husband/bff/kids because you couldn’t find your keys and/or phone), and more likely to get into a car accident (on the way to pick them up – which could prevent you from picking them up ever again). And lack of sleep contributes to substantial cognitive decline over time – a European study found that lack of sleep or disturbed sleep over 6 months resulted in a 23% greater chance of developing dementia later in life.
Lab rats, when deprived of sleep for a week or two, experience loss of immune function and a greater likelihood to die from infection. Of course, we’re not rats. So the University of Chicago did a study on humans, in which volunteers slept only 4 hours a night over 6 days. Not only did the participants demonstrate decreased immune function by only producing half the usual antibodies to a flu vaccine, their blood pressure increased, their cortisol levels skyrocketed, and they showed signs of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a precursor to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur together and increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. According to the Center For Disease Control, the rates of metabolic syndrome in the United States have climbed steadily since 1994 – by more than 35%. But there is good news. Not only did the University of Chicago study successfully show how a chronic sleep debt can raise your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, it also showed that the participant's symptoms – including insulin resistance – were all reversed once the sleep debt was made up.
If you choose to sleep less or have disturbed sleep, you can count on the level of inflammation in your body increasing, contributing to pain and the development of disease. If you find that you’re gaining weight, or are struggling to lose those last 10 pounds, lack of sleep is a big part of why. And, if you’re cranky, irritable, arguing with everyone around you, and experiencing some serious road rage every time you get behind the wheel, it’s very likely because you need to just go to bed.
So how can we get more, better, and restorative sleep?
Reduce screen time before bed time.
You’ve heard this one over and over again, with good reason. As day turns into night, our bodies produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. But if we continue to expose ourselves to bright light, melatonin isn’t produced and our bodies are tricked out of preparing for sleep. Watching recipe videos on Facebook isn’t as important – or interesting – as it seems. Put down the screens at least an hour before bedtime or risk not only suppressing melatonin production, but also increasing the amount of cortisol in your system, which leads to weight gain.
Know when to let it go.
We can only take care of so much in one day. If you’re tired, it is more likely that you’ll make more mistakes. Because lack of sleep affects the brain’s frontal lobes (which control judgement and decision making) you may find yourself reacting to a situation in a way that you’ll regret later if you do it when you’re pooped. Putting a last minute plan into action when you’re exhausted often has negative consequences that you’ll need to clean up later. You need to know when to put a project, task, or even an important conversation down for the day. Get a good night’s sleep and you’ll find that you’re making better decisions, resulting in more effectively knocking down your to-do list with less stress and effort.
Take a magnesium supplement.
Magnesium is becoming more and more popular as a sleep aid. This probably has to do with how it helps to calm the parasympathetic nervous system. Besides also regulating neurotransmitters that are involved in the body’s sleep processes, magnesium regulates melatonin production. And, it binds to GABA receptors. GABA, a neurotransmitter, calms nerve activity. Sleep drugs like Ambien bind to GABA receptors too but, unlike prescription sleep aids like Ambien, magnesium has no side effects (although too large a dose of magnesium can result in loose stools — but some people call that a ‘cleanse’). Once the parasympathetic nervous system is calmed, the body easily slips into calm, restful sleep.
As much as drugs like Ambien have helped thousands of people sleep, you’ve no doubt heard stories from friends and loved ones (as well as a celebrity who was fired from a TV show bearing their name) who have complained about its side effects. These include nightmares, aggression, confusion, and possible addiction, to name only a few.
Taking pharmaceuticals to fall asleep doesn’t have to be your only option. Limitless Life has a ground-breaking product to help you experience what they call ‘functional sleep’. AURORA, available in both a liquid and spray form, not only helps you slip into dreamland, but it gets there thanks to a natural formulation of the most powerful sleep nutrients and amino acids.
AURORA combines both melatonin and magnesium, as well as taurine (which also acts on GABA receptors to calm brain activity) and l-tryptophan (which regulates sleep and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that affect sleep and mood balance). This formulation not only helps you sleep, but sleep in a way that enhances your body’s natural processes. AURORA supports your brain in detoxifying, which improves cognitive function. And, AURORA increases REM and DELTA sleep cycles to give deeper, more recuperative sleep, helping to reduce inflammation and burn excess fat.
AURORA is egg, sugar, gluten, wheat, nut, dairy, and sugar free. And all of Limitless Life’s products are made with ingredients that are sustainably farmed so you can rest assured (see what I did there?) that you’re putting a natural, chemical and toxin free product into your precious body that cost much less than prescription medications.