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Is lack of sleep sabotaging your health?

Sleep matters big time and not getting enough of it could be sabotaging your health and any health goals you might have. Without enough sleep, you create an uphill battle in so many different ways including for your skin. Today I’d like to share exactly why it matters so much and what to do about it.



SLEEP AND ALTERED GLUCOSE

METABOLISM

Sleep deprivation causes hormone imbalance, and I’m not talking about PMT, but the hormones that directly affect your feelings of hunger. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone that makes you feel more hungry) and leptin (the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat) are majorly disrupted when you are not sleeping enough. So, after a night of lousy sleep, if you feel like you need to eat a whole buffet, it’s not all in your head but rather in your hormones. The feast you desire is going to be filled with high-carb, starchy foods and not the lovely healthy ones you might otherwise choose.


The relevance to acne:

Such foods in the long-term will increase insulin sensitivity and trigger a hormone called IGF-1 which has been shown to increase sebum production in sufferers of acne.





STRESS AND YOUR HORMONES

Sleep deprivation causes hormone imbalance, and I’m not talking about PMT, but the hormones that directly affect your feelings of hunger. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone that makes you feel more hungry) and leptin (the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough to eat) are majorly disrupted when you are not sleeping enough. So, after a night of lousy sleep, if you feel like you need to eat a whole buffet, it’s not all in your head but rather in your hormones. The feast you desire is going to be filled with high-carb, starchy foods and not the lovely healthy ones you might otherwise choose.


The relevance to acne:

The stress placed on the body by lack of sleep also upsets your body’s sensitivity to insulin (the fat-storage hormone), which as we’ve already pointed out can trigger a cascade involving the IGF-1 hormone. This then goes on to trigger different enzymes some of which govern cell proliferation (how fast the cells turnover) which can lead to sebaceous hyperplasia whereby the sebaceous glands start getting bigger and producing more oil. IGF-1 also stimulates follicular growth, keratinization and androgen hormone production which can be problematic in cases of hormonal acne.



BALANCED BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS = BETTER SLEEP

The more starchy carbs you eat, the more glucose is in your blood and the higher the amount of insulin that your body needs to restore blood sugar balance. If your diet is high in starchy carbs like bread, rice, pasta and sugars, you make more insulin, which creates blood sugar fluctuations at night, and these cause sleep disturbances. A sugar ‘crash’ at night triggers a release of cortisol to wake you up at the wrong time, and this can shift you out of deep sleep into a lighter sleep phase. Moving to a way of eating that balances your blood sugar helps significantly improve the quality of your sleep.



TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S KIP

There are a number of things you can do (or not do) to improve your chances of sleeping well.

1. Try to go to bed at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine.
2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable; not too hot, nor too cold.
3. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. This may help you completely switch off.
4. Keep the bedroom completely dark, so you’re not disturbed by light, which your brain detects even when your eyes are closed. Eye masks can be useful.
5. Invest in a traditional alarm clock instead of using your smartphone

Don't:

1. Smartphones and tablets can interfere with sleep because they emit the same kind of light as the morning sun – they are best kept out of the bedroom.
2. Eat a heavy meal within four hours of going to bed.
3. Drink caffeine in the afternoon – including coffee, ‘normal’ and green tea, and colas.
4. Use alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol can make sleep more disturbed.
5. Go to bed too hungry. Have a snack before bed – a glass of milk or banana are ideal.
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