DEPARTMENT OF CHILD ENDOCRINOLOGY is where I’m doing my elective internship. The past couple of weeks during which the days have been long, the weather has been hot (turning the bedroom into a Turkish steam room and making sleep impossible) and I have not been getting the sleep I deserve, I have (again) come to appreciate the importance of good sleep – and the impact lack of it has on me (and others).
SLEEP IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING FUNCTIONS our body can perform. You fall asleep, you recharge, your hormones have the chance to get back in place, and your body enjoys the rest it needs to tackle yet another day ahead happily and successfully. That is, if you sleep right. But, what to do when you’re sleeping poorly?
WE’VE ALL BEEN DOWN THAT DARK PATH OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION – whether it was for a day, for a week or for periods of months. With changing shifts and insane work shifts, as a medical intern I have experienced some sleep deprivation myself. But, where as one intern stays up all night to impress the supervisors, I was always determined to cram in a few good power naps in the middle of the night if the department was quiet. Sleep is important, so I try to treat it as such, even when it’s not easy!
IN THIS POST, I WON’T GO INTO DETAILS OF ALL THE HORMONES and signals in your body that get affected by sleep (although I might entertain you with a post about these later!). But, I will mention one and that is: cortisol.
CORTISOL IS A STRESS-HORMONE – you need some of it to get through ‘body-stressful’ situations (such as having the flu, getting surgery or even simply working through the night to finish that paper that’s due tomorrow – all of that you can do thanks to cortisol) but having too much has bad consequences such as suppressing the immune system (making you prone to infections, messing with your appetite (making you eat more), and even messing with your growth).
SLEEPING WELL HELPS REGULATE CORTISOL LEVELS. Normally, cortisol levels peak in the morning (making you prepped up for starting the day, and then drop throughout the day, coming to their lowest levels around midnight (when you should be sleeping, not jumping around in a club.. well at least not on most nights ;)).
Do you sleep well or is sleep a struggle?
By now you’re convinced that sleep is important. Let me know in the comments below how your sleep pattern is going and don’t be afraid to talk to your general practitioner for some good-sound-sleep-advice.