Iconic Concierge Vancouver Spring 2021

Page 90


by Dr. Oliver Finlay

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker


ccording to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults should have at least seven hours of sleep per night to avoid the health risks of chronic, inadequate sleep. However, each person is different and some need eight or nine hours to feel rested and alert during the day. Dr Cheri Mah, a sleep specialist at University of California in San Francisco, recommends that athletes have a minimum of eight hours sleep per night and some may need more than ten. Mah consults for teams in the NBA, NFL and NHL and her research with basketball players found that extended sleep can improve free-throw and three-point shooting by 9%. Sleep plays a crucially important role in both our physical and mental well-being. However, very few of us pay the same attention to improving our quantity and quality of sleep as we pay to enhancing our health and performance through more active pursuits. Get the sleep part wrong, however, and all the good work we commit to exercise, nutrition and mindfulness practices, can be significantly undermined.



Scientists understand that some of our genes act as internal clocks. According to circadian rhythms, which are governed by alternating spells of darkness and light over each 24-hour period, genes are switched on or off, leading to the regulation of hormones such as insulin, cortisol, growth hormone and testosterone. Sustained periods of sleep have a body building effect, with testosterone and growth hormone being released as we rest. This stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone, which help us recover from the exertions of our daily life. When we interfere with these cycles, by having too little sleep, our metabolism of glucose declines, which affects our energy levels and our level of the stress hormone, cortisol, increases. Therefore, poor sleep can impair the body’s ability to repair itself and the mind’s ability to regulate mood. Persistent sleep deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and kidney disease. Sleep deprivation can contribute to anxiety, lack of concentration, poor focus, bad memory recall, slowed reactions, reduced productivity and episodes of depression.

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