Sleep. It’s kind of a weird requirement is it not? Once every 24 hours the body requires us to lie down for anywhere from 7-9 hours in order for us to ‘reboot’ for the next day and go about our daily lives. Some of us tend to think that sleep is a waste of time, it’s ‘for the lazy and unsuccessful’ or they think ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’, which you will learn could be sooner rather than later if we don’t start paying more attention to our nightly zzz’s. So, what is sleep? and why is it so very important to our health and overall sense of well-being?
There’s soooo much attention paid to the role poor nutrition plays in the global obesity epidemic, diabetes and heart disease, and so there should be it’s a serious issue. But very little attention is paid to the link between poor nutrition and depression, anxiety and suicide. Suicide rates are at an all-time with ‘the number of people who have taken their own lives in New Zealand [my home country] the highest since records began, with 668 dying by suicide in the past year’(1). I myself have had a family member die of suicide and can attest to what devastating effects this has on the family left behind.
Modern day living and the fast pace of today’s lifestyle has us living most of our lives in extrospection in the form responsibilities, obligations, bills, meetings, exercise -maybe healthy eating- sometimes and perhaps a bit of a social life, family life etc. Not a lot, if any time is spent on introspection. To take time to be still and hear our thoughts, checking in on how we’re doing with all aspects of our lives.
We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”, well according to science, you are. Think of your body like a computer. Without getting too technical (you can knock yourself out with the research here, and here), what we put into our mouths is broken down and translated into genetic information. It’s like coding for our body. We’re literally ‘programming’ our body with the food we put into our mouths. So, if we have good ‘programming’ (in the form of great nutrition), then we are creating good gene expression, and warding off potential gene predispositions to hereditary diseases such as heart disease or cancer. Good programming allows the body to function optimally meaning you feel well, your weight is within a healthy range and it improves all other areas of health (sleep, stress, cognitive function, gut health, mood, etc).