No science or research is needed to inform you of how beneficial sleep is for your health. You simply feel it. We all know how incredible it feels to wake up from a good night’s sleep. Our head is clearer, we have more energy, and our mood is often much brighter.

So, we may know from experience how good a great night’s sleep makes us feel, but do we really know what sleep is all about? In a recent Ted Talk, Jeff Iliff discusses fascinating new research that may give you one more reason to get a good night’s sleep.

“See, you and I, we go to sleep every single night, but our brains, they never rest. While our body is still and our mind is off walking in dreams somewhere, the elegant machinery of the brain is quietly hard at work cleaning and maintaining this unimaginably complex machine. …when it comes to cleaning the brain, it is the very health and function of the mind and body that’s at stake, which is why understanding these very basic housekeeping functions of the brain today may be critical for preventing and treating diseases of the mind tomorrow.” -Jeff Iliff

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To read more on the basic housekeeping functions of the brain that he mentions, you can go watch the full video or read the full transcript here. I would highly encourage you to do so. It is fascinating information.

While most people know how good sleep is for them, having a healthy sleep schedule is often harder to come by. For some it may simply be an issue of discipline and not making it a priority that could easily be fixed with basic lifestyle changes that support healthy sleep habits. This is one specific area that I focus on when working with my clients one on one.

For others, unfortunately, difficulty getting a good night’s sleep may be deeper than just lifestyle choices. There are certain unfriendly bugs (pathogens, viruses’ and bacteria) that could be living inside of your gut. These bad guys love to become more active at night, ramping up the body’s immune system and triggering the body to release cortisol. This steroid hormone should naturally be highest in the morning because it helps to wake us up. When we are trying to sleep, we don’t want spikes in cortisol as it may keep us up late into the evening or interrupt vital deep sleep throughout the night.

A simple stool test would help rule out if you have any bugs that may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep if simple lifestyle changes is not helping. Sleep is just one area of our health that parasites, bacteria or certain viruses can affect. Infections and infestations are one of the most common sources of HIDDEN stress and can often go undetected for years! As long as they remain active in the body, they will keep the body in a stage of chronic stress that will, over time, lead to further dysfunction in the body and multiple health issues. You can read more on the specific stool test I run with my clients here.

Erin Finch
Erin Finch
FDN-Practitioner
Holistic Nutrition Consultant