I have been posting articles that will help you as you are striving to improve your health and fitness level during the summer days that are rapidly approaching! I have talked about fluid intake and sodium! I have suggested some cool refreshments! Now I am going to point out the importance of adequate sleep!
A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. A short-lived bout of insomnia is generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power, reports the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
While more research is needed to explore the links between chronic sleep loss and health, it’s safe to say that sleep is too important to shortchange.
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
According to a December 2007 article in the journal “Sleep,” people slept for an average of 9 hours per night in 1910 but now average only 7 hours per night. The cumulative total of lost sleep is more than 700 hours a year, a hefty “sleep debt.” The difference is showing up in people’s waistlines, according to “Sleep,” with two-thirds of Americans overweight and half of them obese, as of 2010.
When you get a good night’s sleep–at least 8 hours–your body produces the hormone leptin, which regulates your appetite. With enough leptin, you will feel full and satisfied after a meal. Adequate rest also regulates the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite. Skimping on sleep reverses these positive effects, with a double whammy of less leptin and more ghrelin, so you feel less satisfied after eating and eat more food more often.
What You Feel
Insufficient slumber also leaves energy levels sagging, meaning you’re more likely to skip your workout and reach for a quick boost from sweet or starchy foods–or, worse, a beverage laden with high-fructose corn syrup. A study reported in the Dec. 7, 2004, issue of the “Annals of Internal Medicine” found a 33 percent increase in cravings for calorie-dense foods with high carbohydrate contents after just one night of restricted sleep. These foods give you instant energy but cause a spike and dive in your blood glucose levels that sends you back to the snack machine for more junk food.
What You Need
The National Sleep Foundation reports that fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night is associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes and additional health problems in numerous clinical studies. However, logging more than 9 hours of sleep per night might not be good, either, but research has yet to prove that excessive sleep is a causative factor. With people’s busy lifestyles, though, getting too much sleep usually isn’t a problem.
Hitting the Sack
If you want to lose weight by sleeping more, set a regular bedtime, and wind down by dimming lights, avoiding alcoholic beverages, turning off the television and avoiding controversial or emotional topics of conversation. A bedroom conducive to good sleep is quiet, dark and cool, with a comfortable bed mattress. White-noise machines or fans might help prevent interruptions of sleep.