Project 101 – Resilience is aimed at developing a strong immune system and a body that can fight off disease at any age. One of the key factors in achieving that level of robust health is being a healthy weight. There have been a number of risk factors identified that put certain groups of the population at a higher risk of a critical outcome from being infected with Covid- 19 – Our bodies cannot run at full speed 24hours a day without a decrease in efficiency in the operating systems.. including digestive processing, heart function and the immune system.
Weight Loss, Heart function and Immune System
As I have already established in earlier posts, healthy weight loss is not just about calories in and calories out. Although that is the basic principal of losing fat, there are so many other elements to consider, that are emotionally, physically and mentally critical to a successful outcome.
Stress, emotional and physical, types of foods that are nutrient dense, willpower and exercise are all key elements to a healthy body. Another daily activity that also has a part to play in maintaining a healthy balance in our bodies is sleep.
If you are trying to lose weight…sleep is one of your most powerful diet aids.
You might wonder why weight loss and sleeping go together. Well apart from the fact you won’t be putting any calories in during that time; your body will be processing those you ate the day before. If you consistently only have five or six hours of sleep not only has that process not been completed efficiently, but you wake up wanting to dive into carbohydrates and as many sugary coffees you can get your hands on. Over a period of time as your body loses energy it will demand that you top up more frequently and consume sugars to keep it going… Before you know it your weight is going steadily upwards.
Sleep is essential for the recovery of the body and mind. It is the time of day when organs continue to function but calmly enough to be able to carry out diagnostics and repairs ready to face the next active 16 hours. Without this down time every night you will find yourself vulnerable to physical and mental stress and if sleeplessness is a long term issue for you it can lead to a number of health problems.
The Power of Sleep and the immune system
Sleep is as vital to humans as breathing, drinking water and following a healthy diet. We need exercise and movement throughout the day, to keep us supple and fit, but you cannot run any operating system for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for 70 or 80 years without carrying out essential maintenance.
If we are doing our bit, we should be providing the body with the raw materials it needs to process, manufacture and rebuild our bodies internally and externally. For many of us, however, the ingredient our bodies are deprived of most is sleep.
During the day, our normal activities help our bodies to excrete toxins but the body also needs time to heal, rejuvenate and rest. Most of the day our body is focusing on keeping you upright and able to accomplish every task you set yourself, including providing you with a functional immune system. At night your body can concentrate on cleansing and restoring all the operating functions, ready for the next day.
If your body is tired, digestive system not working efficiently to give your body the nutrients it requires or to remove toxins from the body, you are stressed and your heart is working overtime, your immune system will be under pressure. So if you are in contact with an infectious disease your defense system is compromised and cannot protect your effectively.
For example: the heart normally beats 82 times in a minute.
That is 4,920 times an hour – 118,080 times a day – 826,560 times a week – Almost 43 million heartbeats a year. That is a huge amount of work for the organ that keeps us alive!
However, when we are asleep our hearts beat at around 60 beats per minute, or lower.
This means that for 8 hours of the day our heart will beat 28,800 instead of 39,360 times, which is a saving of 10,560 for those down time hours.
If you multiply that over a year you will be saving nearly 4 million heartbeats. Take that in relation to our life-span of an average of 80 years, and your heart will have to work 320 million heartbeats less, saving wear and tear on this vital organ.
With regard to weightloss, your heart will also have to beat less as you lose weight which is one of the reasons that being close to a healthy weight is so important. Also if you are asleep you digestive system has time to process food that you have eaten and if you have left three hours after your last meal, it can work more efficiently.
I have covered intermittent fasting in other posts, and by extending the period of fasting to 12 to 14 hours a day may help you lose weight and also give your body time to repair and recover. If you are getting 8 hours of sleep per night, and are awake for only a couple of hours each side of this… you will be able to manage this shortened eating window much easier.
The same principal applies to the rest of the body and its operating systems. Your lungs will work less as your breathing slows during the night. Your muscles will rest and recuperate and your brain will undergo diagnostic tests and repairs while you sleep.
Most mental disorders, including depression and Alzheimer’s, are linked to various sleep disorders, some resulting from drugs used to control the disease or from changes in parts of the brain that normally regulate sleep patterns. There are also some concerns that sleep aids, particularly prescribed medication used long term may result in mental impairment. (As always do not stop taking any prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.)
Our dream states are important as it is part of your brain’s downtime function as it sorts information, filing and in some cases deleting unimportant information or spam, much as we do with our computers.
Going without sleep affects hormonal balance, and therefore our mood and stress levels. The glands that produce these hormones, such as the adrenal glands, are on constant alert and have no chance to rest and rejuvenate. As in the case of a rowdy neighbour it is “one up, all up”. The knock-on effect of having all these hormones rampaging around the body is that nobody gets any rest, leading to physical, mental and emotional problems.
Performance levels will decrease without proper sleep and our reactions and internal processes will be impaired. Research has shown that sleep deprivation has the same effect on driving performance as taking alcohol or drugs. People who do not get enough sleep become increasingly less sensitive to certain chemical reactions within the body and in the case of insulin this increases the risk to developing both diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you are tired then your body is trying to tell you something
Some strategies to help you get a good night’s sleep tomorrow.
Get moving with Music Therapy
Over the course of these posts I will be sharing my playlists I would warm up the crowd with at charity walks and runs. They should help build your resilience and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.
If you are not particularly active at the moment then you can walk on the spot, but swing your arms in time to the music so that you activate your breathing. If you are a little bit more adventurous then take to the floor and have fun.
A couple of times should get the blood flowing
I am a country girl at heart and was thrilled to be introduced to Line Dancing when I lived in Texas, even if I was pretty ***** at it… but I was a huge fan of the music before I arrived and so have infiltrated by playlist since then with some foot stompers. This one is perfect for walking on the spot and swinging your arms… or step from side to side and then bring your feet together. Book Scootin’ Boogie.. by Brooks & Dunn
Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you will drop in tomorrow for part two of sleep..
Here are the links to the pages that support the posts in the series
- Weight Loss – Size Matters The Sequel
- The Lungs
- The Immune System and Vitamin D
- The Digestive and Immune System
- Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes
- Heart Health
- pH Balance for Health
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020