Good quality sleep is the foundation of good health and yet many of us underestimate its importance. Worse yet, as the world sits in the grip of an anxiety-inducing pandemic, even less of us are getting enough of it. Alas, a lack of sleep, especially on an ongoing basis, has a terrible effect on your health. It's also one of the major causes of premature ageing.
Sleep and your health
Our bodies are always in repair mode, but much of this gets done at night. This is why getting enough deep, restorative sleep plays a major role in protecting our health. Without it, you dramatically increase your risk of conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and more.
Good quality sleep is also key to a healthy immune system – something that’s always been imperative, but never more so in a world besieged by Covid-19. This is why, when we’re feeling sick, our body’s first instinct is to get some rest. On the flip side, not getting enough sleep can actually lower our immune system.
Another reason why getting enough sleep is more important than ever is that, while anxiety and depression can cause you to lose sleep, not getting enough pillow time can lead to poor mental health. It’s a vicious cycle but one that has to be broken if you’re to survive and thrive in these exceptionally difficult times. Sleep and your skin
We all know we don’t look our best after a sleepless night. Our eyes can get puffy. Our skin can look drawn. However, a chronic lack of sleep is what can really take its toll on our skin. After all, sleep deprivation affects your body’s ability to synthesise collagen, the ‘stretchy’ protein that gives it its youthful-looking elasticity. It can also disrupt your skin’s barrier function leading to increased sensitivity and dryness.
Then there’s the cortisol connection. Known as the stress hormone, cortisol triggers inflammation that, if left unchecked, can cause outbreaks of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and skin allergies. High cortisol levels also increase your blood sugar. This encourages a process called glycation that damages your skin’s collagen content. A real sleep solution
If you’ve been struggling to sleep on an ongoing basis, it’s time to take it seriously. In the same way that you wouldn’t ignore chronic pain, you shouldn’t accept a life where you’re constantly running on empty.
To find out what’s causing your restless nights or simply improve the quality of your sleep, make an appointment to chat with one of our doctors at Sleep Renewal. The clinic uses state-of-the-art sleep study equipment, either at the sleep clinic at Morningside, or through a home study to get to the root cause of what’s keeping you up. They can also create an appropriate treatment plan using an array of treatment options that range from breathing devices to neurofeedback sessions.
To find out more about how Skin Renewal can help you enjoy more of the deep, restorative sleep your body craves visit www.skinrenewal.co.za
. Dr Graham Duncombe is a general practitioner with a special interest in aesthetic, anti-ageing and cosmetic medicine. He is based in Cape Town and consults from Skin Renewal’s Stellenbosch, Willowbridge and Paarl branches.