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Why Sleep is Your Life Support System

Why Sleep is Your Life Support System

In his latest book, A Life Less Stressed: The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness, health specialist Dr Ron Ehrlich explores why sleep is our built-in life-support system. We managed to glean a few tips from Ron himself on why you need a good night’s sleep and how exactly to get it.

Why Sleep is Your Life Support System

According to Dr Ehrlich, the key to a good night’s sleep consists of two things: quantity and quality.  In terms of quantity, 90% of the adult population require 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Infants and toddlers require more like 11- 13 hours, while teenagers need 10-12 hours. As for quality, this has everything to do with how well a person breathes while they are asleep.

Breathing issues are something Ron has studied in great depth, discovering that narrow jaws and crowded teeth, which affects a whopping percentage of people (over 90% of the population!), relates to breathing issues, particularly during sleep. Other sleep disordered breathing conditions include clenching or grinding of teeth, snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Poor sleep can have a profound effect on a person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, affecting both adults and children.

Another reason sleep is so important is to balance hormones. Dr Ehrlich says, “Hormones controlling blood sugar levels (insulin), fat metabolism (leptin) and hunger (grehlin) all go out of balance with poor sleep resulting in weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. Studies show that after even only 1 week of poor sleep blood sugar levels look prediabetic. Sleep is also affecting the body sex hormones, the reproductive system and not surprising, people’s sex lives.”

If you’re not convinced already, Ron has also discovered that sleep loss can have a profound effect on heart health. Daylight saving affects many people, all over the world, every year. In spring, as a result of losing 1 hour of sleep, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks. What’s even more interesting is that in autumn there is a 21% decrease. If this isn’t proof of how dependent the body is on sleep, we’re not sure what is.

And the pros to sleep continue… Sleep stabilises your emotion and mental health. Poor sleep causes the emotional centres of the brain to become hyperactive and irrational. The immune system also relies hugely on a good night’s sleep. One study from UCLA found that after 4 hours of sleep reduction there was a 70% drop in natural killer cell activity. It was also discovered that there is a strong link between short sleep and cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast.

According to Professor Mathew Walker of University of California Berkley, “Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity – a life-support system”.

Dr Ehrlich summarises his findings, stating, “A consistently good night’s sleep is the foundation of building physical, mental and emotional resilience to deal with the stresses of modern life.”

Dr. Ron Ehrlich, is one of Australia’s leading holistic health advocates with over 35 years of clinical experience. He is the author of A Life Less Stressed: the 5 pillars of health and wellness, host of the weekly podcast Unstress with Dr. Ron Ehrlich, gives keynotes and runs workshops on understanding stress, wellness and in doing so, fulfilling potential.

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