How Sleep Affects Health: A Deep Dive on the Brain, Immune System, and More

Sleep Affects Health

Sleep is often seen as a luxury in our fast-paced world, but its importance to our overall health cannot be overstated. This vital, restorative process is fundamental to the proper functioning of almost every system in the human body. From enhancing cognitive functions and emotional well-being to bolstering the immune system and regulating metabolism, sleep’s impact is profound and far-reaching. Since 2017, the growth of the sleep market has doubled, making the demand for sleep nootropics greater than ever.  

Can Sleep Affect Health and Overall Well-being?

Sleep plays a critical role in both health and well-being. And while a good night’s sleep helps the mind and body recover, recharge, and wake up refreshed to start a new day, for many US adults, restful sleep is elusive. What could that mean for the reported 35% of US adults who say they are falling short of the recommended 7 or more hours? First, we must understand what circadian rhythm is.

What is the Circadian Rhythm?

Circadian rhythms are natural physical, mental, and behavioral changes and processes that follow a 24-hour cycle that respond primarily to light and dark. Most living organisms, including animals, plants, fungi, and even some bacteria, are affected by circadian rhythms. Being awake during the day when the sun is out and sleeping at night after the sun sets is an example of circadian rhythm. In humans, the sleep cycle can be segmented broadly into two parts: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which happens first and is divided into three sub-stages (N1, N2, and N3) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when vivid dreams tend to occur. Assuming you are getting a full night’s sleep, this cycle repeats on average four to five times every 90-120 minutes. 

How Does Sleep Affect Hormones?

Hormones are closely related to our circadian clocks and the quality of sleep we get. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is released in the morning, which promotes alertness. But when we are sleep-deprived, our bodies can produce an over-abundance of cortisol, which may signal the body to store fat. Excessive cortisol levels can lead to higher levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that control hunger, leading to an overconsumption of food. Moreover, too little sleep has been linked to an increased inability to respond to insulin as well as a decrease in physical activity. All of these are contributing factors to metabolic syndrome, which is linked with being overweight or obese. 

How Does Sleep Affect the Immune System?

According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, a lack of sleep can negatively affect the immune system, making individuals more likely to get sick, which can prolong recovery time. Proteins called cytokines, which help the body fight infections and some diseases, such as cancer, are released by the immune system during sleep. A 2016 study showed that sleep and cytokines may have a reciprocal relationship; simply put, the immune system releases cytokines during sleep, and the presence of cytokines helps promote sleep. It is unsurprising, then, that sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease the production of cytokines.

How Does Sleep Affect the Brain?

Sleep-deprived individuals may experience inattentiveness, lack of focus, irritability, and “brain fog,” which makes sense considering that sleep has been shown to affect how neurons communicate with each other. Getting enough sleep helps with concentration, attention, learning, and many other important cognitive benefits. But it’s not because the brain shuts down during sleep—it’s the opposite, in fact. The brain stays quite active during sleep. The human brain goes through the process of sorting and storing information from the day, such as what should become a long-term memory.

During sleep, the brain may also be “cleaning house.” One study suggests that the human brain may flush out the buildup of toxins that accumulate while individuals are awake, which shows another possible link between sleep and brain function. This study illuminates the need for more research into how sleep affects a variety of cognitive functions and neurological disorders

Can Digital Devices Promote Poor Sleeping Habits?

Digital device use adds to the duration of blue light exposure beyond the length of the natural day. And not all light is the same. For instance, both blue and green light have short wavelengths and have been shown to suppress melatonin, a hormone that has long been associated with the sleep-wake cycle. However, blue light has been shown to suppress the secretion of melatonin more drastically. In an experiment conducted by Harvard researchers, it was shown that blue light exposure suppressed roughly twice the amount of melatonin and shifted circadian rhythms twice as much as green light. 

Lutemax 2020 Helps Improve Sleep Quality

OmniActive’s B.L.U.E. (Blue Light User Exposure) study demonstrated that an efficacious 24 mg dose of Lutemax 2020 (20 mg lutein and 4 mg zeaxanthin isomers) significantly improved sleep quality in subjects exposed to prolonged blue light from sources such as digital devices.

Is There a Natural Alternative to Melatonin for Sleep?

While melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the brain that tells the body to “go to sleep,” most melatonin supplements on the market are synthetic, and current research only shows safety with short-term usage. Valerian is a flowering perennial plant native to both Europe and Asia, which has been traditionally used to help support sleep quality. However, many consumers cannot get over its unpleasant odor. 

Sleeproot Promotes Multiple Sleep Benefits 

All natural, non-hormonal Sleeproot valerian was developed to deliver a clinically studied solution with efficacy at a low dose, allowing for inclusion in applications such as gummies. Just a 200 mg dose has been shown to help safely support several aspects of sleep quality, including getting to sleep quicker, staying asleep longer, waking up feeling refreshed and helping to decrease feelings of anxiety.

Explore OmniActive’s Sleep Health Ingredients

OmniActive offers clinically backed sleep health ingredients to support consumers seeking quality rest. Our Specialty Actives portfolio features premium branded ingredients bolstered by ongoing investments in science, intellectual property, and cutting-edge technologies. Additionally, our extensive range of customizable Botanical Actives meets high industry standards through dedicated R&D, rigorous quality control, and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices. Contact us today to learn how OmniActive can enhance your sleep support products!